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Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II

Don't expect the Senate Democrats to put up a fight on Miers. On a blogger conference call last week with Sen. Harry Reid (I wrote about it here), he told us he asked the President to consider Harriet Miers. (Update: Here are his exact comments, thanks to Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped, who also was on the call. Sen. Reid's comments were in response to a question I asked him about his thoughts on who Bush would pick for the next nominee.)

I personally think that I would like to see someone who has not had judicial experience. I think that we need somebody to go on that Court in the mold of the people on the Berger court, people who have not spent their lifetime holed up in some office writing opinions and reading briefs. One of the people that’s being talked about is Harriet Miers, his own lawyer. At the meeting we had with the president last week, we were in the office he has there; I was there, Frist was there, Leahy was there, and Specter was there, plus Andy Card and the vice president. I said, “The vice president got here in a very unusual way. He was chosen by you to find a candidate to be your vice president. You liked the person in charge of finding a candidate better than the people he chose.” I said, “I think that rather than rather than looking at the people your lawyer’s recommending, pick her.” ...

The reason I like her is that she’s the first woman to be president of the very, very large Texas bar association, she was a partner in a law firm, she’s actually tried cases, she was a trial lawyer, and she’s had experience here. I could accept that. And if that fits into the cronyism argument, I will include everybody as a crony, but not her, when I make my case.

My initial reaction to her nomination: Relief. I served with Ms. Miers on the Martindale Hubbell-Lexis Nexis Legal Advisory Board for a few years. She resigned in 2000. Here's her bio as of that time (from the 1999-2000 board year):

HARRIET E. MIERS, Co-Managing Partner of Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP, has previously served as President and director of the State Bar of Texas as well as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Dallas Bar Association. She is currently a member of the House of Delegates for the American Bar Association and State Delegate for the State of Texas. Ms. Miers also serves as a Trustee of the Southwestern Legal Foundation, a member of the Executive Board for the Southern Methodist University School of Law and Chair of the Texas Lottery Commission.

I didn't get to know her well, but we sat next to each other for several hours at the last meeting she attended and I liked her. We only talked law, not politics, but she won me over - and I was pre-disposed not to like her, that being the year that Bush was running for President and knowing she was his personal lawyer.

The other members of that Board at that time, at least four of whom are former ABA Presidents (including Martha Barnett who is quite progressive on women's and social issues)know Ms. Miers from her ABA work and spoke very highly of her.

My opinion could change should additional information surface that she is a Thomas or Scalia, but I don't think that will be the case. Compared to some of those under consideration he might have chosen, like the ultra-conservative 4th Circuit judges or Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, Ms. Miers is a far better choice.

The nominee I'm worried about, as I've said before, is the one he'll pick when Justice Stevens retires. That's when he's going to pay back the Radical Right for their support.

Update: Harry Reid on Harriet Miers:

I like Harriet Miers. As White House Counsel, she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner. I am also impressed with the fact that she was a trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and as the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association. “In my view, the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer. The current justices have all been chosen from the lower federal courts. A nominee with relevant non-judicial experience would bring a different and useful perspective to the Court. “I look forward to the Judiciary Committee process which will help the American people learn more about Harriet Miers, and help the Senate determine whether she deserves a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.”

I agree with Markos of Daily Kos. This is a win for Democrats and a loss for the Radical Right.

Update: Two more positive items about Ms. Miers from this bio:

Similarly, she has served as the chairwoman of the Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee of the State Bar of Texas. .... while she served as President of the State Bar of Texas, Ms. Miers also logged 125 pro bono hours handling an immigration and naturalization case for Catholic Charities of Dallas.

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    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    If John Roberts and Harriet Miers aren't rightwing conservatives they would be the first Bush appointments that are not. Miers participated in all of the Schiavo decisions -what must her attitude about the courts be? She is antichoice and will exercise her view as a member of the court. The Stevens appointment -- irrelevant the court is now a rightwing institution

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#2)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Southwestern Legal Foundation? Isn't that an oil and gas outfit?

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Full Name The Southwestern Legal Foundation, of Oil and Gas Law and Taxation,

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#4)
    by Pete Guither on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    It appears that Harriet Miers gave donations to Democrats in the 1980s and then switched to Republicans. Interesting.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Hmmmmm. Quite the puzzle. I sure don't know the answers, but a big stinking public battle where the public sees the pick as one more instance of Bush rewarding incompetence and cronyism, and an open revolt within the red side, followed by a narrow appeal and a moderate or moderate-conservative on the bench, . . . Well, that could just be a win-win-win. Of course that's best-case scenario. But the various scenarios are looking better than I ever imagined. And with the hard-righers in such early revolt, it might be very easy for the Incometent Cronyism label to stick. Add that to a long list of Uncle Rummies and Condi Rices accelarating into Michael Brown, and Bush may have just cemented his image as The Era of The Incompetents. We can only hope.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#7)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    WAL - In that picture, Miers looks suspiciously like Data's mother.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Is that Miers blog for real? I hope it's a joke. If she thinks Bush "is the greatest president ever"...ahead of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Truman...we are in deep do-do. I question her intelligence.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    She also did pro bono work for Exodus Ministries which works with ex-prison inmates to prevent their falling back into lives of crime. Exodus Ministries link via josh marshall

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    The Stevens appointment -- irrelevant the court is now a rightwing institution
    Dude, count the votes! To bring about rightwing Supreme Court nirvana, GWB needed to change two votes on the Court. Replacing Rhenquist with Roberts is at most a wash. O'Connor was a vote for Roe/Casey/Lawrence, so if her replacement joins the Scalia/Thomas block, that's one. But that still leaves 5 justices on the court who voted for Casey and Lawrence--he'd need one more vote.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:38 PM EST
    Yo dude geta math tutor -maybe Ms. Miers is available-- apparently you cannot count. In 1992, O'Connor voted to uphold the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, calling it "a rule of law and a component of liberty we cannot renounce...." In the 1980s, the Reagan administration moved to dismantle preferential treatment for minorities. O'Connor was a critical vote in thwarting the administration's plans. She was the crucial vote when the court upheld affirmative action policies on the nation's college campuses. She played a crucial tie-breaking role as the author of the court's final word on race-conscious legislative redistricting. "We proceed case by case as they come to us, and not with any overarching objective that the court itself" has developed, O'Connor has said. "We aren't here trying to develop something in the sense of where the country should go." She voted to uphold a public Christmas display including a creche, but voted to bar a public Christmas display of a creche alone. Her view was that the Constitution prohibits any government action that is intended to send a message endorsing religion. Her vote determined the outcome in both cases. Read her record before you suggest what her role has been

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    kdog- It seems that Meir's blog is a joke. SCOTUSblog has lots of good links regarding the nomination.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    Some personal notes on Meir via Laura Rozan's War and Peace:
    Via the Hotline blog, a Texas Supreme Court justice, Nathan Hecht, who claims to know Miers well, says she "belonged to a 'fundamentalist' church back in Dallas and has views on abortion that evangelicals will be very comfortable with."
    War and Peace

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    I think Democrats may need to stop gloating over the fact that Shrub's base is upset. He used them to attain power and now feels absolutely no compunction whatsoever to give them what they are due. You gotta hand it to the guys handlers, they played the religious right in this country masterfully and now can leave town not owing them a damn thing. I don't know what to think about Miers. The only thing I have to go on is the past performance of Shrub in deciding the best course of action, so her nomination leaves me terribly worried. And it doesn't matter to me one bit that J here at TL thinks Miers is a nice sort. TL blogged extensively about all of the unsubstantiated horrific crimes that were supposedly happening in New Orleans without one shred of skepticism, so I don't trust the instincts of J, TChris, or any of the other blogger on this site. It has proven to be very wrong in the past.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    But who knows, I sure don't. Miers may end up being the worst nightmare of the religious right. I am willing to stand back and let things play out. I don't think that the Dem's need to even attempt a filibuster. So maybe Harriet Miers will be just another SCOTUS member who goes down in history for not being earthshattering in any of her decisions but does a competent job. Maybe Shrub got this one right. I doubt it but I am interested in seeing this one play out. But my gutty wutts are saying there is nothing but bad times on the horizon.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    Dobson gives Meir two thumbs up and bashes Souter and Kennedy at the same time.
    One cannot know absolutely about matters of integrity and philosophy until a jurist is given the tremendous power and influence of their position. As Lord Acton said: 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Sadly, that seems to have happened to Justices Souter and Kennedy. All we can say now is that Harriet Miers appears to be an outstanding nominee for the Supreme Court.
    via billmon who also reports that reports the wingnut blogsphere is going nuts hurling invective (in ALL CAPS) against Chimpy due to pent up anger. Novak reported the same, a two day Republican Bush Bash at the prestigous Forstmann Little Aspen Weekend.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#19)
    by james on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    I am delighted with this choice, which must be viewed in context. We have now a woman, who has a history of reasonably intelligent legal activities, many of which were in the service of socially-responsible ("progressive") causes such as volunteer work with legal societies like tha ABA, etc. This woman cares about the law, about our country and about people. With this experience, the chances are that she will not devolve into a mentally-ill position of moral absolutism ala Scalia et al. That's absolutely the best we could hope for under a Republican controlled government. I also feel much the same way about Roberts except he shows less social responsibility and more intelligence. My real concern is that the freakers will bail and she will not be confirmed in the Senate even with half of the Democarats.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:39 PM EST
    Shermbuck: "TL blogged extensively about all of the unsubstantiated horrific crimes." That's a considerable exaggeration. There were perhaps one or two topics with that false information. More to the point is who spread those lies, and, ahem, smell your fingers.

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#22)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:40 PM EST
    If the Democrats quietly submit to this bastardization of the Supreme Court, I think I'm going to have to dump the Democratic Party. The fact is that they just don't represent me, or my views, and I don't think they really have since the Carter administration. They've given our country away to the Republicans and have about the same political strength and vitality as the average neutered dog. I think I'll be voting for Nader in the next election, I'm fed up with watching my republic being dismantled by crooks, losers and morons. Admittedly I don't know much about this woman, but at this point there is literally nothing to distinguish her for about 100,000 odd attorneys across the US today. What gives her the kind of judicial temperament necessary to sit on the most exalted court in the land? Why do she deserve this honor ahead of about a thousand candidates I could rattle off who are eminently more qualified for this position? At least John Roberts has a top-notch intellect, if nothing else. The conservatives like to talk about the dumbing down of America, and recently the phrase "stuck on stupid "is in vogue. I think this nomination is well described by both of those phrases. After all we've got a third-rate mind holding the highest office in the land, why not a fourth rate mind making decisions that will affect our country for the next hundred years?

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#23)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:40 PM EST
    And for those of you who are embracing her because the right wing has questions about her, come on. If Bush picked her, you know she's absolutely a partisan hack who'll spend her tenure as a Supreme Court justice proving how loyal she is to his ideology. You really think that'll be a good thing for America, having the voice of George Bush on the Supreme Court for the next 20 to 25 years possibly? Are you kidding me?

    Re: Harriet Miers: Initial Reaction II (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:40 PM EST
    Aaron-Whose voice do you expect to have on the courts. It is the executives privilege to appoint and the senate can approve or reject. Since there is no effective check on Bush's power at this point filibuster is the only option, I doubt that the Dems are up to the task as they let Roberts sail through without getting any requested docs, just a bunch of non answers. Meir is an evangelical christian who is most likely anti-choice, Owens, Brown, Estrada, Gonzales, Olsen are probably worse, although it always a gamble as we saw with Blackmun, and Souter. I personally would filibuater for three years or until the Chimperor is impeached, but no one has elected me and I am not running for office in the near future.