Harriet Miers, We Hardly Knew Ye

Battered Bush accepts withdrawal of flagging Supreme Court nominee

Editor's note: On Thursday morning, Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court, bowed to what had appeared an inevitable defeat. Bush announced that he had accepted the withdrawal of Miers, his chief White House counsel. According to CNN, Miers told the president it was in the nation's best interest for her to exit the confirmation process. Bush told reporters: "It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House—disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel." It's important to note that Bush had been unable to sell his conservative base on either her competence for the job or her conservative credentials. With the nation waiting for indictments in the Plame Affair, the administration had tried to mount a defense of Miers—to no avail. Back when the Miers nomination still had a pulse, Washington correspondent James Ridgeway provided this look at the would-be justice.


So much for that: Miers at the announcement of her nomination
photo: White House photo by Paul Morse/Whitehouse.gov
So much for that: Miers at the announcement of her nomination

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  • The Bush Beat predicts Miers will withdraw before Patrick Fitzgerald makes his announcement.
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    Boring From Within
    Harriet Miers: This Is Your Life

    The Bush White House loves Harriet Miers because she keeps her mouth shut and can be counted on to do the dirty work. If confirmed, she would be Bush's Abe Fortas, LBJ's longtime crony on the court, who played the judges as a bunch of suckers. Eventually, Fortas got caught in improper dealings and was forced to resign.

    As a Bush hatchet woman on the court, Miers would probably offer a degree of solace to people like Rove, DeLay, Frist, and other Bush functionaries now beginning to face disgrace if not prosecution. But, too bad for Bush, she would be no James Baker. And the president would be throwing her up against the new chief justice, John Roberts, who, after all, got his training from the old master of political sleaze, William Rehnquist himself. Roberts surely doesn't want to wreck his career on the court by blowing himself up for the creepy Bush family.

    Miers hasn't talked much, but here is a chronology gathered from published sources:

    • 1945: Born in Dallas, where she would spend most of her life. The fourth of five children of real estate investor Harris W. Miers Sr. and Sally Richardson, she is raised a Catholic.

    • 1963–70: Graduates from Hillcrest High School in Dallas, gets a B.S. in math from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, then a law degree, also from SMU.

    • 1971: Clerks for U.S. District Judge Joe Estes in Dallas, a job that helps give her entry into the all-male Texas law fraternity.

    • 1972: Hired by Dallas law firm Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely, later becoming a partner.

    • 1975: Meets Nathan Hecht, whom she later hires at her firm. The two become fast friends, dining, jogging, confiding in each other. He takes her to church and into evangelicalism. There's talk of marriage but it doesn't happen. "I don't like talking about all that," Hecht reminisced recently. "There's two in a relationship. Yes, I thought about it, and I guess she did too." Hecht is now a Texas Supreme Court justice.

    • 1980: Hecht introduces her to the evangelical Valley View Christian Church. Baptized by immersion, she starts teaching Sunday school and working on the church's mission committee. Hecht later says: "Her personal views are consistent with that of evangelical Christians. . . . You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a conservative church."

    • 1985: Becomes the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association.

    • 1988: Contributes $1,000 to Al Gore's last-minute presidential bid aimed at ridding the Democrats of Jesse Jackson, who is gaining strength in the primaries. (Gore helps sink him in New York.) Also gives $1,000 to Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, running mate of Michael Dukakis against the elder George Bush. Former GOP chairman Ed Gillespie now describes Miers as a "conservative" Democrat during the '80s.

    • 1989: Elected to the Dallas City Council for an inconsequential, one-time, two-year term. During the race, her campaign chair, Lorlee Bartos—a liberal activist—now says, Miers balks at appearing before the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. But in response to a survey by the Lesbian/Gay Coalition of Dallas, Miers answers "yes" when asked "Do you believe that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non-gay men and women?" She also says the city has responsibility for AIDS education and patient services. She opposes, however, the repeal of the state anti-sodomy law.


    Although a supporter of abortion rights in her youth, Miers's "born-again" awakening, says Bartos, changed her view.

    • 1989: Hecht takes Miers to a gala and introduces her to George W. and Laura Bush.

    • 1989: Contributes $150 to Texans United for Life and is a sponsor of the group's annual dinner honoring a top abortion opponent, Illinois Republican Henry Hyde.

    • 1992: Becomes first female president of Texas State Bar. The next year, tries unsuccessfully to get the American Bar Association to drop public support for Roev. Wade.

    • 1994: Bush's gubernatorial campaign chair, Jim Francis, tells him: "Look, we need to have a campaign general counsel. We're running against a popular female governor [Ann Richards]. We need a woman." Bush hires Miers.

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