WASHINGTON - Stunned by conservative opposition to Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, President Bush next week will bring in former justices from her home state of Texas to trumpet her qualifications for the nation's highest court.
The event is part of an administration effort to refine its push for Miers after its initial strategy failed to quiet opposition from members of the president's own party.
The Republican critics, who suggest Bush passed over candidates with long records of conservative rulings from the bench, say that if the White House strategy continues to amount to a "trust me" message, they'll continue to grumble.
On Friday, press secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly used the words "qualified" and "well-qualified" to defend Miers and to say she deserved a fair hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Conservative opponents say emphasizing her resume is part of a new White House tack.
The White House has sought to dampen opposition from the GOP's right flank by noting that Miers attended an evangelical church in Texas that is almost universally anti-abortion. This week, the president spoke of how religion is part of her life.
That only inflamed some critics, rubbing against the grain of judicial conservatism - the idea that judges should interpret the Constitution strictly and that their opinions should not be colored by personal beliefs.
Bush has announced his allegiance to judicial conservatism by saying repeatedly that judges shouldn't "legislate from the bench."
On Monday, as senators return from visits to their districts, Bush is hosting a White House event with former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justices John Hill and Thomas Phillips. Miers, meanwhile, will be meeting with more senators next week and is expected to return a 12-page questionnaire to the judiciary panel early next week.
Hill, Phillips and another former Texas Supreme Court chief justice, Joe Greenhill, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday trumpeting Miers' credentials.