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Bush picks Harriet Miers for Supreme Court
by sources
Monday Oct 3rd, 2005 7:02 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush on Monday nominated a member of his inner circle, White House counsel Harriet Miers, for a Supreme Court vacancy, choosing a woman with plenty of legal experience but who is not a judge to replace the retiring
Sandra Day O'Connor.
Miers, 60, a longtime ally of Bush's going back to his days as Texas governor, would be the third woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. The others are O'Connor and a current justice,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

O'Connor was a key swing vote on the closely divided Supreme Court and Democrats signaled Miers would undergo intense scrutiny at the U.S. Senate, which must confirm Bush's choice.

In an Oval Office ceremony with Miers at his side, Bush credited her with breaking down barriers to women in the Texas legal profession, becoming the first woman to head her Dallas law firm, the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association and the first woman elected president of the state bar of Texas.

"I believe that senators of both parties will find that Harriet Miers' talent, experience and judicial philosophy make her a superb choice to safeguard the constitutional liberties and quality of all Americans," Bush said.

He called on the Senate to conduct her confirmation hearings with "the same respect and civility" granted his nominee for U.S. chief justice, John Roberts, who was confirmed last week in time for the opening of the Supreme Court's new term on Monday.

New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) made clear he would pressure Miers to answer questions about her judicial philosophy.

Democrats were stung when Roberts, during his confirmation hearings, refused to say how he would rule on cases that came before the high court.


"We know even less about Harriet Miers than we did about John Roberts and because this is the critical swing seat on the court, Americans will need to know a lot more about Miers's judicial philosophy and legal background before any vote for confirmation," he said.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a pro-abortion group, expressed concern and demanded to know Miers' position on abortion.

"We expect Miers to make clear her views on reproductive rights during the hearing process, and the Senate should not confirm a nominee who is not willing to do so, said Karen Pearl, the group's interim president.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of a conservative group, the American Center for Law and Justice, said Bush showed exceptional judgment with the choice.

Harriet Miers was born in Dallas, Texas on August 10, 1945.

Ms. Miers received her bachelor's degree in Mathematics in 1967 and J.D. in 1970 from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduation, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Joe E. Estes from 1970 to 1972. In 1972, Ms. Miers became the first woman hired at Dallas's Locke Purnell Rain Harrell.

In March 1996, her colleagues elected her the first female President of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell, at that time a firm of about 200 lawyers. She became the first female to lead a Texas firm of that size.

Locke, Purnell eventually merged with a Houston firm and became Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP, where Ms. Miers became Co-Managing Partner and helped manage an over-400-lawyer firm.

Ms. Miers had a very distinguished career as a trial litigator, representing such clients as Microsoft, Walt Disney Co. and SunGard Data Systems Inc.

Throughout her career, she has been very active in the legal community and has blazed a trail for other women to follow.

* In 1985, Ms. Miers was selected as the first woman to become President of the Dallas Bar Association.

* In 1992, she became the first woman elected President of the State Bar of Texas. Ms. Miers served as the President of the State Bar of Texas from 1992 to 1993.

* She played an active role in the American Bar Association. She was one of two candidates for the Number 2 position at the ABA, chair of the House of Delegates, before withdrawing her candidacy to move to Washington to serve in the White House. Ms. Miers also served as the chair of the ABA's Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice.

On numerous occasions, the National Law Journal named her one of the Nation's 100 most powerful attorneys, and as one of the Nation's top 50 women lawyers.

Ms. Miers also has been involved in local and statewide politics in Texas.

* In 1989, she was elected to a two-year term as an at-large candidate on the Dallas City Council. She chose not to run for re-election when her term expired.

* Ms. Miers also served as general counsel for the transition team of Governor-elect George W. Bush in 1994.

* From 1995 until 2000, Ms. Miers served as Chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, a voluntary public service position she undertook while maintaining her legal practice and other responsibilities. When then-Governor Bush appointed Ms. Miers to a six-year term on the Texas Lottery Commission, it was mired in scandal, and she served as a driving force behind its cleanup.

Ms. Miers came to Washington D.C. in 2001 and began a period of distinguished and dedicated service that continues today.

* She was appointed to be Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary on January 20, 2001.

* In 2003, Ms. Miers was promoted to be Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff.

* Ms. Miers has served as Counsel to the President since February, 2005.

White House counsel Harriet Miers has been a trusted and loyal adviser to US President George Bush since the 1980s.

The two met in Texas, where she was his personal lawyer, then served on his gubernatorial campaign in 1994 and again during his presidential election of 2000.

Officially described as deputy chief of staff for policy, Harriet Miers, 60, has been serving as President Bush's top legal counsel since November 2004.

At the time of her appointment, Mr Bush said he relied on her for "straightforward advice".

She enjoys a particularly close relationship with the president, and is a regular guest at Camp David.

If confirmed as the president's choice for the Supreme Court vacancy, Miss Miers would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court.


Ms Miers has rarely talked to reporters since arriving in Washington in 2001 as part of the president's staff.

She has never served on the bench, which means observers have found it difficult to predict whether her nomination would dramatically move the court to the right.

Before her nomination, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told the Associated Press news agency that Democratic and Republican senators had recommended Miss Miers as a possible nominee.

Friends and colleagues describe the single woman as assertive and ambitious, whilst being discreet and selfless.

"She is defined by hard work, dedication and client loyalty," says Jerry Clements, partner at the Locke Liddell & Sapp firm of lawyer in Texas where she worked before moving to Washington DC.

"She just overcame any obstacles with hard work and dedication," said Mr Clements.

In 1996, Mr Bush called her "a pit bull in size six shoes".

Breaking barriers

Her hard work appears to have paid off - not only in mounting the echelons of power, but also in overcoming gender-based bias.

She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received her undergraduate and law degrees from Southern Methodist University there.

She became the first woman hired by Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely - an old Dallas legal firm - and served there for more than 20 years.

In 1985, she became the first female president of the Dallas Bar Association and in 1992 became the first woman to head the Texas State Bar.

In 1995, Mr Bush appointed Ms Miers as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission for a six-year term.

However, she unexpectedly resigned after five years that were marked by controversy and the dismissal of two executive directors of the commission.

Despite the problems, she was praised in local newspapers for "preserving the operations' integrity".
by more
Monday Oct 3rd, 2005 7:03 AM
Her law career sounds very impressive, but I am wary of the fact that she has never served as a judge. However, I really think it is too early to say for sure until we hear more details.
Jenna, Harrisburg, IL, USA

While Ms Miers seems to have an accomplished background, I am concerned that she is from the President's inner circle and has not been an actual judge. In my opinion, before one should be considered a position as one of the top judges for the nation, that person should have actually been a judge.
Micahel Paquette, Trumbull, CT, USA

It is curious that in the United States, becoming a supreme court judge does not require... any experience of actually being a judge.
Colin, Cambridge, UK

Appointing someone who has no experience as a judge and who is a senior aid to the existing government can only be a political move to make the Supreme Court a pawn of the president.
James, Cambridge, UK
by more
Monday Oct 3rd, 2005 7:18 AM
The woman President Bush appointed this week as White House counsel, Harriet Miers, is hardly known in Washington but has a history in Texas of handling years of scandal at the state's lottery commission. The president, who once retained her as his personal lawyer, described her in 1996 as ''a pit bull in Size 6 shoes.''

Those attributes should help her in a new job that requires her to advise Mr. Bush not only on national security and military law -- a large part of the counsel's responsibilities since Sept. 11, 2001 -- but also on continuing legal investigations, including an inquiry into who in the administration leaked the name of a C.I.A. undercover officer.

''She's the kind of person you want in your corner when all the chips are being played,'' said one friend, Joseph M. Allbaugh, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. ''She will give the president advice unvarnished, and that's exactly what he wants.''

Ms. Miers, 59, currently serves as deputy chief of staff for policy and assistant to the president. She has rarely, if ever, talked to reporters since arriving in Washington in 2001, and she declined a request for an interview on Friday.

But her history, and comments from friends, suggest that she is the kind of woman, like Karen P. Hughes and Condoleezza Rice, whom Mr. Bush likes on his staff: tough, direct and intensely loyal. Her appointment reflects the president's determination to promote longtime members of his inner circle to critical positions for his second term.

''Harriet Miers is a trusted adviser on whom I have relied for straightforward advice,'' Mr. Bush said in a statement released this week. ''Harriet has the keen judgment and discerning intellect necessary to be an outstanding counsel.'' In 1995, Mr. Bush, then in his first months as governor of Texas, appointed Ms. Miers to a six-year term as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission. Ms. Miers unexpectedly resigned after five years that were marked by controversy and the dismissal of two executive directors of the commission. The first executive director, Nora Linares, was fired in 1997 when it became public that her boyfriend had worked for the company that held the contract to operate the lottery. Ms. Linares's successor was dismissed after only five months when he began reviewing campaign contributions of state legislators without the commission's knowledge. Despite the problems, as well as the lottery's declining sales, The Dallas Morning News praised Ms. Miers when she resigned in 2000 for ''preserving the operations' integrity.'' Ms. Miers, who is unmarried, was born and raised in Dallas, one of five children whose father was in the real estate business. She graduated from Southern Methodist University and its law school, then went to work in Dallas for Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. In 1985 she became the first woman to be president of the Dallas Bar Association, and in 1992 the first woman to be president of the Texas State Bar. She became the president of Locke Purnell in 1996, the first woman to lead a major Texas law firm. In 1998, she presided over the merger of Locke Purnell with another big Texas firm, Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill & LaBoon, and became co-managing partner of the resulting megafirm, Locke Liddell & Sapp.

by ~
Wednesday Oct 5th, 2005 7:28 PM
Is anyone else a little suspicious about the alleged right-wing furor over Miers' nomination? Miers apparently belongs to a rather conservative church, is at the core of Bush's inner circle, and has never given any signal that she is anything other than a staunch social conservative and abortion opponent. And yet we are supposed to believe that it's the right-wingers who are upset? This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and frankly I wonder if it could be a manufactured outcry.

Here's how it works: You have to nominate someone for Supreme Court who will be seen as a moderate, because they're replacing O'Connor. But you'd really rather nominate someone who is an ideological clone of your own right-wing views. So you contact a few trusted friends in the conservative media and blogosphere, and ask them to harshly criticize your nomination. Of course, you can also count on numerous liberal groups to complain as well. Now your nominee is getting it from both sides, which guarantees that they will be seen as a moderate, regardless of their actual positions.

Pretty clever, huh? I guess Karl must have gotten over those kidney stones.

Of course, having an "opposition" party leader in the senate who sees eye to eye with you on a lot of issues doesn't hurt either!

God bless American politics!

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