Bush's unconventional choice
Harriet Miers, nominee to the high court, has never been a judge, so paper trail is short.
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With little hard evidence that Miers will take positions that please the activist base of the Republican Party, Bush is essentially saying to his party, "Trust me," says Professor Gerhardt.Skip to next paragraph
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Miers's selection over the many other long-mentioned candidates - with lengthier paper trails - may point to a reluctance by Bush to tempt the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate. If Senate Democrats were to engage in endless debate, Bush and his Republican allies would then face a decision over whether to go "nuclear" by changing the rules and allowing his nominee to pass with a simple majority. To some analysts, Bush's selection of a nominee who does not trigger automatic, fierce partisan opposition in the Senate is a sign of his weakened political position.
But now Bush is facing qualms from his right flank. "Many conservatives today will view this as the most unqualified nominee since Abe Fortas," says Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of libertarian and conservative organizations and a former counsel on judicial nominations to Senate majority leader Bill Frist. "It's exactly the opposite of what we were looking for ... to undo the need for stealth nominees."
Questions were raised about Mr. Fortas's nomination because of his friendship with President Lyndon Johnson.
Conservative activist lawyer Jay Sekulow, a stalwart in backing White House judicial nominees and an emissary to religious conservatives, backs Miers fully. She represents "the conservative mainstream of judicial philosophy of interpreting the Constitution, not rewriting it," he said in a statement, touting as one example Miers's leadership in opposing the American Bar Association decision to come out in support of Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights precedent. He does not address the issue of her donations to Democratic political candidates, including Al Gore in 1988.
Miers is not the first high court nominee to lack judicial experience. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist had never been a judge prior to donning the robes of a justice. Lewis Powell, a member of the high court from 1972 to 1987, was one of the nation's most respected lawyers but had no prior service on the bench.
Likewise, Chief Justices John Marshall and Earl Warren were not jurists before joining the court.
• Born in 1945, in Dallas.
• Degrees in mathematics (1967) and law (1970) from Southern Methodist University.
• Joined Dallas law firm in 1972; by 1985, was first woman president of Dallas Bar Association.
• Member, Dallas City Council, 1989-1991.
• Chairwoman of Texas lottery commission from 1995 to 2001, when she joined the White House. She has been counsel to President Bush since February 2005.
• Named by National Law Journal as one of the nation's 100 most powerful attorneys.
• Has worked with multiple charities, including the Young Women's Christian Association, Childcare Dallas, Goodwill Industries, Exodus Ministries, Meals on Wheels, and the Legal Aid Society.
• Single; no children.
- White House Press Release, Associated Press