President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, has withdrawn her nomination in the face of strong criticism from conservative Republican activists.
The Miers nomination seemed to be in trouble from the start and on Thursday, the suspense ended when Ms. Miers informed the White House that she had decided to withdraw.
A statement issued by President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw.
The president blamed her withdrawal on calls from senators from both political parties for access to White House documents that the president insists must be protected by the principle of executive privilege.
Senators from both parties had demanded the documents for her confirmation hearings on positions she had taken on various issues as White House Counsel.
Mr. Bush said that Harriet Miers decision to withdraw demonstrates her deep respect for the constitutional separation of powers that underlines the concept of executive privilege. The president went on to say her decision confirms, in his words, "my deep respect and admiration for her."
Among those supporting her withdrawal is Senator Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi.
"I am just pleased that she stepped up to the realization that she should step aside," said Trent Lott. "I think it is in the president's best interests and the country's best interests."
Harriet Miers was nominated on October 3 to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
But from the outset, Ms. Miers faced opposition from conservative activists who had wanted the president to choose any one of several better-known conservative jurists to replace the moderate Justice O'Connor.
In fact, at least one conservative group, Americans for Better Justice, had just begun running a television commercial asking the president to withdraw the Miers nomination.
"Even the best leaders make mistakes. Conservatives support President Bush, but not Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers."
Conservatives also complained about her legal qualifications and that she was chosen mostly because of her longtime service to Mr. Bush, first as Texas governor and then as president.
Opposition Democrats vowed to ask tough questions at the confirmation hearings, but for the most part stayed quiet, preferring to let Republicans debate her qualifications.
The president must now nominate someone else to replace Justice O'Connor, who has said she will remain on the nine-member Supreme Court until the Senate confirms her successor.