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Emerging supporter of Harriet Miers: businesses

Her experience in corporate law is needed on the court, they say.

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Too close to the White House. Too few credentials. Not a bona fide conservative. By now, the right's criticisms of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers are well-known.

But nearly lost in the tide of comment is the Washington business community's developing interest in Ms. Miers. With on-the-ground experience in corporate law, she has a background that they say has been missing on the high court in recent years.

"Having two justices, [Chief Justice John] Roberts and Miers, who we expect to join him shortly, that's adding two to nothing from the point of view of that kind of experience. That's big for the business community," says Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce. He predicts that other business groups, many for the first time in their histories, will take a higher profile role in court fights.

"Business is getting involved for the first time because, in the last decade, we've had a litigation explosion in this country that is unmatched in the industrial world - $250 billion in annual tort costs, much of it paid by the business community," he adds. "There's a concern in having [justices] with an understanding of business and commercial law from a real-world perspective."

For more than a year before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, the US Chamber had been evaluating potential candidates from federal circuit courts on the basis of their record on business issues and making its views known to the White House. "We were very proactive," says Josten, who says that Miers was not among those ranked, because she had never been a judge.

While the Chamber and other business groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, have yet to formally endorse Miers, they are talking up her business credentials.

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