Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Telephone lines to Republican senators sizzled last week with calls protesting the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. That followed reluctance of the senators to heed the call by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the White House to go to the Senate floor to boost Miers.

 Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas associate of Miers and her friend for 15 years, was the only speaker praising her during Tuesday's "morning business," though the leadership had hoped to fill that period with Miers boosters.

 A footnote: President Bush had advised senators that his probable choice for the Supreme Court was federal Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan of California. Bush touted Callahan's diversity as a Hispanic woman, but she is liberal enough to be recommended for the high court by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.


 Former Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie, one of his party's rising stars, is off to a poor start in promoting Harriet Miers' confirmation to the Supreme Court.

 According to published reports, Gillespie evoked a negative reaction from conservatives last Wednesday when he accused Miers' opponents of "sexism." Republican insiders say that the Miers confirmation poses a big test for Gillespie, who within a few years rose from congressional aide to millionaire Republican lobbyist.

 Actually, Gillespie thought he had accepted a one-time task to run the confirmation effort for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. But Gillespie had no choice when President Bush said he hoped the Roberts team would stick together for the second high court confirmation. Gillespie has now moved out of the White House back to his lobbyist firm downtown.


 Freshman Sen. Mel Martinez last week quietly blocked immediate confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the European Union of prominent Republican lawyer C. Boyden Gray, who last year withdrew his support for Martinez in the Florida Republican primary.

 Gray was an active supporter of Martinez, who had resigned as secretary of Housing and Urban Development to run for the Senate. But three and one-half months before the Aug. 31 primary, Gray switched to former Rep. Bill McCollum. Gray said then that Martinez, a trial lawyer, had "opposed tort reform" and "taken money from the trial lawyers."

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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