Focus on the Family founder James Dobson dared U.S. Senators Tuesday to subpoena him to testify, saying he does not know any big secrets about how Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers would vote on the court.
“If they want to do that, then I just suggest that they quit talking about (it) and just go do it,” Dobson said, in a pre-recorded radio program scheduled for broadcast Wednesday. “But I won’t have anything to say that I haven’t just told millions of people.”
Dobson dedicated the broadcast to trying to debunk the impression that President Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, gave him secret information about Miers’ legal opinions on issues like abortion during a conversation prior to her nomination last week.
He takes aim at what he calls Democrats’ “wildest speculation” _ that Rove might have offered assurances that Miers would vote to overturn the landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade, that legalized abortion.
“It did not happen, period!” Dobson said, according to an advance transcript released Tuesday night by the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Focus on the Family.
Dobson said Rove told him information about Miers’ background, including her membership in a conservative, evangelical Christian church that was “almost universally pro-life” on abortion. But he said most of that information has since been reported by the mainstream media.
Dobson has been at the center of a national controversy since last week, when he offered Miers a tentative endorsement based on “some of the things I know _ that I probably shouldn’t know.”
Various U.S. Senators, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., have suggested they might call Dobson to testify about his knowledge at Miers’ upcoming confirmation hearings.
Specter has said if there are “backroom assurances” or “backroom deals,” the committee needs to know about them. On Tuesday, he told reporters he has talked to Rove about what he told Dobson, but that the committee’s staff needs to finish a preliminary review before deciding whether to call Dobson as a witness.
“That remains to be seen depending on what our inquiries show,” Specter said.
One thing Dobson said he “probably shouldn’t know” was that, according to Rove, highly qualified conservatives on President Bush’s short list of candidates who took their names out of the running.
“What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn’t want to subject themselves or their families to it,” Dobson said.
Dobson’s statements supporting Miers have drawn intense scrutiny, especially since so many other prominent conservatives have said they are wary of Miers’ lack of a paper trail outlining her views on issues like abortion.
White House spokesman Allen Abney said Rove simply shared with Dobson what he knows about Miers’ qualifications and work after knowing her for almost 15 years.
“During his outreach calls to Dr. Dobson and many others, including members of Congress, at no point did anyone ask him _ nor did Mr. Rove offer any insight into _ how Ms. Miers would vote on any particular case that might come before the Supreme Court,” Abney said Tuesday.
Dobson’s endorsement of Miers has perplexed some of his longtime allies in the conservative movement, many of which have expressed concern or outright opposition to Miers.
Conservative legal scholar Robert Bork has called Miers’ selection “a disaster on every level,” since she has no experience with constitutional law and Bush overlooked other qualified conservatives who do.
“It’s kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who’ve been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years,” Bork told an MSNBC interviewer on Friday.
For three decades, Dobson has been on a crusade against legalized abortion, which he considers murder. Like many “pro-life” advocates, he has put his greatest hopes in the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Although Dobson believes Miers is opposed to abortion, he also has publicly prayed to God not to let him make a mistake by endorsing her. If he has, he told Christian-oriented radio listeners last week, “The blood of those babies who will die will be on my hands to a degree.”
Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., is among lawmakers demanding to know what information the White House might have given to Dobson about Miers’ views.
“This just underscores the point that the White House needs to share info about Miers,” Salazar spokesman Cody Wertz said Tuesday.
In Wednesday’s broadcast, Dobson takes aim Democrats he said have been “trying to make something sinister” out of his conversations with Rove.
He singled out Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee, who has said he might have to call Dobson to testify because Dobson appeared to have private assurances about how Miers would vote.
“Well, Leahy is either lying or he’s given to his own delusions or he has got some problem somewhere, because that’s flat-out not true,” Dobson said.
A spokesman for Leahy could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
(E-mail sprengelmeyerm(at)shns.com or visit www.shns.com.)