Bush chooses White House counsel Harriett Miers for Supreme Court
Bush chooses White House counsel Harriett Miers for
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 3, 2005, 7:25 AM EDT
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has chosen Harriet Miers,
White House counsel and a loyal member of the
president's inner circle, to replace retiring Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, a senior
administration official said Monday.
If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate,
Miers, 60, would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as
the second woman on the nation's highest court.
Miers, who has never been a judge, was the first woman
to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the
Dallas Bar Association.
Without a judicial record, it's difficult to know
whether Miers would dramatically move the court to the
right. She would fill the shoes of O'Connor, a swing
voter on the court for years who has cast deciding
votes on some affirmative action, abortion and death
Known for thoroughness and her low-profile, Miers is
one of the first staff members to arrive at the White
House in the morning and among the last to leave.
When Bush named her White House counsel in November
2004, the president described Miers as a lawyer with
keen judgment and discerning intellect -- "a trusted
adviser on whom I have long relied for straightforward
He also joked of Miers, "When it comes to a
cross-examination, she can filet better than Mrs.
Miers has been leading the White House effort to help
Bush choose nominees to the Supreme Court, so getting
the nod herself duplicates a move that Bush made in
2000 when he tapped the man leading his search
committee for a vice presidential running mate -- Dick
Conservatives call Miers a top-notch lawyer who
understands the limited role they say judges should
play in society. In nominating Miers, they say Bush is
reaffirming his commitment to picking judges who will
respect the letter of the law and not allow cultural
or social trends sway their opinions.
"Harriet Miers is a top-notch lawyer who understands
the limited role that judges play in our society,"
said Noel Francisco, former assistant White House
counsel and deputy assistant attorney general during
the Bush administration. "In nominating Ms. Miers, the
president has reaffirmed his commitment to appointing
judges who will respect the rule of law and not
legislate from the bench."
With no record, liberals say the White House should be
prepared for Miers to be peppered with questions
during her Senate confirmation.
"Choosing somebody who is not a judge would put that
much more of a premium on straight answers to
questions because there would be that much less for
senators and the public to go on when looking at such
a nominee's judicial philosophy," says Elliot
Mincberg, counsel with the liberal People for the
Formerly Bush's personal lawyer in Texas, Miers came
with the president to the White House as his staff
secretary, the person in charge of all the paperwork
that crosses the Oval Office desk. Miers was promoted
to deputy chief of staff in June 2003.
Miers, a single, soft-spoken woman who guards her
personal privacy, has led a trailblazing career. She
grew up in Dallas, earning her undergraduate and law
degrees from Southern Methodist University.
As an attorney in Dallas, Miers became president in
1996 of Locke Purnell, Rain & Harrell a firm with more
than 200 lawyers where she worked starting in 1972.
After it merged a few years later, she became
co-manager of Locke Liddell & Sapp.
When Bush was governor of Texas, she represented him
in a case involving a fishing house. In 1995, he
appointed her to a six-year term on the Texas Lottery
She also served as a member-at-large on the Dallas
City Council. In 1992, she became the first women
president of the Texas State Bar. She was the first
woman of the Dallas Bar Association in 1985.
Pete Shane, a law professor at The Ohio State
University, predicted that "it's going to be a long
Noting criticism of Bush's choice of Michael Brown to
head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a man
who was later demoted and then resigned after a
sluggish governmental response to Hurricane Katrina,
Shane said of Bush: "He's going to pick his best
friend in the White House counsel's office to be on
the Supreme Court? It seems like a flat-footed thing