Campus Reacts to Miers’ Nomination

By Pamela Bond

North Texas Daily

Oct. 11, 2005

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In addition to White House staff secretary, deputy chief of staff and assistant to the president, Harriet Miers might soon add Supreme Court Justice to her resume. On Oct. 3, President Bush nominated the 60–year-old White House counsel to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“I think he’s [Bush] looking for someone who shares his judicial philosophy and political outlook, and can be confirmed,” assistant professor of political science Dr. Wendy Watson said.

However, it is not currently clear what exactly Miers’s political opinions are, as she has not served as a judge before.

“She doesn’t have the same kind of political experience as recent nominees – she would be the only one in the court without any judicial experience,” assistant professor of political science Dr. Corey Ditslear said. “Even her political experience is limited compared with the others.”

However, lack of judicial experience has not stopped past justices, such as John Marshall, William Rehnquist and Earl Warren, from being confirmed, nor did it stop Bush from nominating her.

“The president knows her, and knows what she stands for,” Ditslear said. “But he has to convince everyone else that she’s qualified.”

Miers also differs from current justices because she did not attend Harvard, and instead graduated with her J.U. from Southern Methodist University in 1970.

After graduating, she was the first woman to work at the Locke Purnell, Rain & Harrell firm, now Locke, Liddell & Sapp, in Dallas from 1972-2000, where she eventually became a co-managing partner. During her time as a trial litigator, she represented such clients as Microsoft and Walt Disney.

Also during her time as a lawyer, Miers became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association in 1985 and then the first woman president of the Texas State Bar Association in 1992. She also served as Chair for the Texas Lottery Commission from 1995 to 2000.

In 2000, Miers served as a personal lawyer for Bush’s campaign, advising him in areas such as the allegations about his time in the National Guard. She has worked in the White House since then and in February 2005 became counsel to the president.

“I’m sure he [Bush] nominated her because he knows she will not legislate from the bench – she will simply interpret the Constitution,” Denton County Republican Chairman Dianne Edmondson said.

Before the Senate confirms or rejects Miers’s nomination, the judicial committee will compile a report on Miers and her judicial philosophy through background checks and courtesy meetings with key senators.

Next, the judicial committee will send its recommendation to the Senate, which will then debate the appointment. It takes three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 Senators, to end the debate and move the Senate into a final vote. To be appointed, a simple majority of the Senate needs to vote for a nominee to be confirmed.

“It’s safe to say that the court will change dramatically,” Watson said. “It’s such a small group of people; any appointment will change its dynamics.”