This morning President Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers, who has never served as a judge, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Miers would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation’s highest court and the third to serve.
“She has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice,” Bush said at the announcement. “She will be an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court of the United States … She will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench,” Bush said.
“If confirmed, I recognize I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help insure the court meets their obligations to strictly apply the laws and Constitution,” Miers said.
Bush was under intense pressure to nominate a woman to replace the retiring O’Connor. With her lack of a judicial paper trail, some feel Democrats will have difficulty opposing her nomination. According to AP, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had urged the administration to consider Miers.
Interestingly, Bush’s announcement coincides with John Roberts’ first day of work as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The White House released a bio of Miers this morning:
- 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.
She is single and very close to her family: two brothers and her mother live in Dallas and a third brother lives in Houston.
When he named Miers Counsel to the President in November of ’04, Bush said, “Harriet Miers is a trusted adviser, on whom I have long relied for straightforward advice. Harriet has the keen judgment and discerning intellect necessary to be an outstanding Counsel. She is a talented lawyer whose great integrity, legal scholarship, and grace have long marked her as one of America’s finest lawyers.”
Take a look at Miers’ record of campaign donations, including some Democrats, here.
Bush 43 White House associate counsel and current ABC News consultant Brad Berenson assesses the Miers nomination: “The case for Harriet comes down to conservative, confirmable woman. It also answers the Senate’s suggestion for someone outside the ‘judicial monastery.’ But the real driver is clearly her relationship with the President, which is extremely close and long-standing. She was his personal counsel in Texas, was deeply involved in the legal aspects of the campaign in 2000, and has served loyally, discreetly, and ably in several important roles in the White House.
“Unlike most of the other candidates, Harriet would not have been on anyone’s short-list of the lawyers in America best qualified for the Supreme Court before George Bush was inaugurated. However, that is not to say she is unqualified or poorly qualified. On the contrary, she has had quite a distinguished career in private practice and in government and is generally regarded as smart and capable. In this respect, her nomination most resembles that of Lewis Powell, who came to the Court from a position of leadership in the private bar.
“The choice seems to satisfy the President’s main substantive objectives: she is definitely conservative, she is a woman, and she will almost certainly be confirmed as easily as Roberts was. All of the Senators know her personally and generally have a high opinion of her.”
“Even by comparison with John Roberts, she has almost no paper trail. She is also extremely cautious and careful, so Senators who may wish to oppose her will have a virtually impossible time finding a handhold. This does not mean her general judicial philosophy is unknown: people who know her are confident she is quite conservative and a genuine, principled believer in judicial restraint. But her views on particular issues involving the US Constitution are totally unknown. She simply has not dealt with very many of those.”