Miers on the Dallas City Council

by TChris

Harriet Miers served one term on the Dallas City Council. A WaPo article summarizes her mixed record.

She would meet with abortion rights advocates and gay rights activists but tell them firmly she did not agree with them. She backed a redistricting plan aimed at electing more minorities even though conservatives called it a quota system. She voted to raise taxes two years in a row, disagreeing with some colleagues who favored deeper budget cuts.

Miers told gay activists that she could not support the repeal of a Texas law banning sodomy. On the other hand, she stated in a questionnaire for the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas that she supported equal rights for gays.

Abortion rights activists asked Miers if she supported an ordinance that protected abortion clinic patients from harassment.

"She said, well, I'm sorry, it's murder, and that's that," said Joy Mankoff, founder of a local women's political action network. "There was no room for any discussion."

Encouragingly, Miers played a leading role in crafting a settlement agreement in a lawsuit that accused Dallas of perpetuating segregated housing.

Among other things, the agreement forced the city to demolish or renovate dilapidated minority-occupied housing projects and increase the supply of low-income housing in more affluent, white suburban neighborhoods. Miers subsequently voted to make it easier to prove housing discrimination cases by lowering the burden of proof.

Miers’ political stance on abortion seems clear, and she joined a unanimous Council vote to ask Congress to amend the Constitution to ban flag burning. Still, Miers’ short tenure on the Council revealed few firm political convictions.

For the most part, Miers operated in the background, leaving her colleagues perplexed about her political ideology. She also had a tendency to switch stances on critical issues, a trait supporters said showed her thoughtfulness but that critics labeled indecision.

She won friends across the political spectrum.

If Miers rarely pushed her own agenda, she readily plunged into the middle of the biggest civil rights controversies of the day, winning the respect of council members such as Diane Ragsdale, a firebrand African American whom many in the white establishment loved to hate. "Early on, Harriet asked me what could she do to improve conditions for my constituents," Ragsdale said. "She was always about fairness."

Miers didn’t enjoy the experience.

She left elected office of her own choosing after one term, lamenting to a local reporter that "decisions are more political" than an effort to reach the "right result."

We still need to know a great deal more about Miers, but the WaPo article provides valuable information about her career on the Dallas City Council. Whether her political views would translate into a zeal to replace well-established precedent is a question the Judiciary Committee will need to explore.

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    Re: Miers on the Dallas City Council (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:48 PM EST
    We still need to know a great deal more about Miers Like why on Earth does she hang with GWB?

    Re: Miers on the Dallas City Council (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:48 PM EST
    She seems like a terribly unfocused intellect. Doesn't want to overturn the Texas sodomy law??? She has rocks in her head there. And a powerful prejudice that is keeping her from, with that law at least, from doing the right thing. And her anti-choice stance will, IT WILL, lead to her being anti-choice on the court. And excuse me for laughing when she says she quit the city council because they made decisions politically. That's your job, to use politics to come to consensus. And now she wants to be the ultimate politician -- with no checks on her power? And, please, Supreme Court justices are politicians. Except they are beholden to no one but themselves. She seems mediocre.

    Re: Miers on the Dallas City Council (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:49 PM EST
    She seems mediocre.
    exactly what i have been thinking. doesn't want to overturn the texas anti-sodomy law, but supports equal rights for gays/lesbians? these are two contradictory positions, revealing at best, a second rate legal mind. she doesn't think the volstead act should be repealed, but supports the people's right to drink. i don't think you can have both, it's either one or the other, they are clearly conflicting positions. if this is the best she can offer, she's not qualified for the SC.