KWAME HOLMAN: On Wednesday President Bush raised the issue of religion when he suggested it was a reason he chose his longtime associate.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers. They want to know Harriet Miers' background. Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion.
KWAME HOLMAN: That angered some Senate Democrats who charged Miers' religion was being used to appease religious conservatives, some of whom have criticized the choice of the White House counsel, in part because she lacks a clear judicial philosophy. Illinois's Dick Durbin said: "The White House is basically saying that because of Harriet Miers' religious beliefs you can trust her. That to me is a complete reversal not only of the history of choosing Supreme Court nominees but of where the White House was weeks ago with the nomination of John Roberts."
Durbin himself was singled out for asking John Roberts how his Catholic faith affected his professional life. Texas Republican John Cornyn said such questions should be off limits in the Roberts' confirmation hearings.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN: We have no religious test for public office in this country, and I think anyone would find that sort of inquiry, if it were actually made, offensive.
KWAME HOLMAN: And conservative activist James Dobson stoked the fire this week, telling his radio listeners he had a conversation with presidential adviser Karl Rove two days before Miers' nomination and was told -
DR. JAMES DOBSON: --she is from a very conservative church which is almost universally pro-life.
KWAME HOLMAN: Questioned repeatedly about that yesterday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended the administration's campaign in support of Miers.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: I said that she recognizes that religion and personal views have no role to play when it comes to being a judge, yet some in the media wanted to continue to chase this story and not focus on her record and her qualifications. That's all I'm saying.
KWAME HOLMAN: Harriet Miers will be back on Capitol Hill next week, continuing her courtesy calls on the senators who will judge her nomination.