Monday, October 03, 2005

Who is Harriet Miers?

Mavin Olasky has been posting some background info on Bush's new nominee for the high court.


Harriet Miers -- pro, part 1

This begins a series of seven posts on Harriet Miers, based on interviews with those who know her. Some background for the first five: I spoke yesterday with Nathan Hecht, the Texas Su-preme Court justice who is a prolife hero for strongly supporting parental notification laws five years ago when a SCOTEX major-ity was scuttling them. Hecht, 55 and never married, and Harriet Miers, 60 and never married, have known each other for 30 years and are -- to quote Hecht -- "very close friends. We dated some. The relationship has been close: Platonic... We go to din-ner, I go to Washington for special things."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:24 AM :: :: Comments (39) ::

Miers has been a member of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years, where Hecht has been an elder. He calls it a "conservative evangelical church... in the vernacular, fundamen-talist, but the media have used that word to tar us." He says she was on the missions committee for ten years, taught children in Sunday School, made coffee, brought donuts: "Nothing she's asked to do in church is beneath her." On abortion, choosing his words carefully for an on-the-record statement, he says "her per-sonal views are consistent with that of evangelical Christians... You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a con-servative church."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:23 AM :: :: Comments (17) ::

Hecht says about Miers' judicial philosophy: "She's an orginalist -- that's the way she takes the Bible," and that's her approach to the Constitution as well -- "Originalist -- it means what it says." He notes that her legal practice involved writing contracts rather than tort law, so she was always looking at the plain meaning of the words: "Originalist." He also says she's not a social butterfly who will be swayed by Washington dinner table conversation: "She goes to the dinners she's supposed to go to. She's not on the social circuit."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:22 AM :: :: Comments (6) ::

Hecht says Miers never got married because she "probably worked too hard. She's close to her family, has a sister and three brothers, goes to her nephews' high school football games, bought a car for one of them." She "had a Catholic upbringing, had not been close to the church, it was off again, on again, then she came to a point in her life when she wanted to change that…. She made an abrupt change in 79 or 80. She was very hard-working and successful, she wanted new meaning, substance in her life.”
Her father died when she was a freshman in college. "Look at her commitment in taking care of her [now 93-year-old mother] all these years. Look at her tax returns. She tithes, gave a full tithe to the church. Helps out in missions, Bible translation. These are the kinds of values she shows." Hecht and Miers "went to two or three prolife dinners in the late 80s or early 90s."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:21 AM :: :: Comments (3) ::

Questions are being raised about Harriet Miers' politics because published records show her making contributions of $1,000 to Lloyd Bentsen in 1987, Al Gore in 1988, and the Democratic Na-tional Committee that same year. Hecht says, "She was a Democ-rat years and years ago, in the early 80s." As far as the late 80s contributions, "If she did it, it was because the [law] firm made her do it." She is loyal to President Bush and he to her: "The president demands a lot. The people he's loyal to are productive." Miers and Laura Bush are "very close. Harriet just loves Laura, has the deepest respect for her. Laura has migrated in her faith, it’s stronger than when she got to Washington.”
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:20 AM :: :: Comments (9) ::

Harriet Myers -- anti

Hecht's evaluation needs to be taken seriously, but here's one negative analysis from a lawyer who is a conservative Christian and worked with Harriet Miers in Texas (I agreed to go off-the-record with this lawyer, a credible person whose practice could be seriously hurt by this criticism of Miers): "Harriet could have become a conservative in Washington, but unless she did, she doesn’t have any particular judicial philosophy… I never heard her take a position on anything… We’ll have another Sandra Day O’Connor… Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she’s known. She’s a pretty good lawyer…. This president can be bamboozled by anyone he feels close to. If a person fawns on him enough, is loyal, works 25 hours a day and says you’re the smartest man I ever met, all of a sudden you’re right for the Supreme Court."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:19 AM :: :: Comments (15) ::

Harriet Miers -- her pastor's view

I talked yesterday with Miers' pastor, Ron Key, who for 33 years (until a few weeks ago) was pastor of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. “She started coming to church in 1980. She helped out with kids, made coffee, furnished donuts, served on missions committee. She worked out her faith in practical, be-hind-the-scenes ways. She doesn't draw attention to herself, she's humble, self-effacing." Key has still seen her in recent years because "her mother is 93. Harriet tries to get home as much as she can." When Key and Miers met in 1980, "I don’t know how strong her faith was at that time. She came to a place where she totally committed her life to Jesus. She had gone to church be-fore, but when she came to our church it became more serious to her.... Our church is strong for life, but Harriet and I have not had any conversations on that…. We believe in the biblical ap-proach to marriage."


  1. Don't know what to make of her. In any event, half of what's known as evangelicalism would have been considered liberalism 50 years ago (altough I don't have a clue about her church)

    She could turn out to be a surprise, but what "conservative" wants to run a branch of the American Bar Association?

  2. And, why is it that the left gets the General Counsel for the ACLU (Ginsberg) and we get the head of the Texas Bar Association?

    That being said, I think it's very unlikely that she's another Souter.

  3. I like my donuts already furnished. But then my wife wants to re-arrange everything.

  4. Most of the grousing from the Right and the Left seems to come from the fact that Miers is largely unknown and possibly unknowable prior to appointment.

    I think most pundits, Right or Left, prefer a "known" commodity. Because Miers can't really be templated, classified, and pigeon-holed, both Right and Left are nervous.

  5. Here are a few things we do know:

    We know that Miers supported democratic candidates during the same time span (the 80's) that she was supposedly "more serious" about her involvement in church, and the same time period that she was "committing her life to Jesus."

    We know that when Miers filled out a questionnaire from the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas when she ran for city council in 1989, she indicated her support for full civil rights for gays and lesbians and backed AIDS education programs for the city of Dallas.

    Again - this happened during the same time span during which she was allegedly a "committed" Christian.

    We also know that Bush has a history of (inexplicably) supporting moderates/liberals at times over more conservative candidates (e.g., liberal Arlen Specter in the PA Republican primary versus the more conservative Pat Toomey; the liberal Richard Riordan versus the conservative Bill Simon in the 2002 CA gubernatorial primary).

    What I don't understand is why the conservative Christian right is continually surprised when these types of candidates/appointees that many are suspicious of to begin with turn out to be left-center.

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