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Harriet Miers on Principles & Values

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005; withdrew)


Donated to Democrats in 1890s, Republicans afterwards

Source: NewsMeat.com donation records from FEC , Oct 22, 2005

Reconsideration under appropriate circumstances is essential

Judicial activism can occur when a judge ignores the principles of precedent and stare decisis. Humility & self-restraint require the judiciary to adhere to its limited role and recognize that where applicable precedent exists, courts are not free to ignore it. Mere disagreement with a result is insufficient to justify ignoring applicable precedent, but reconsideration under appropriate circumstances is also necessary. There are clear examples, like Brown v. Board of Education, where revisiting precedent is not only right, it is prudent. Any decision to revisit a precedent should follow the most careful consideration of the factors that courts have deemed relevant to that question. Thus, whether the prior decision is wrong is only the beginning of the inquiry. The court must also consider other factors, such as whether the prior decision has proven unworkable, whether developments in the law have undermined the precedent, and whether legitimate reliance interests militate against overruling.
Source: Miers’s Responses to Senate Judiciary Committee Questions , Oct 18, 2005

Conservative Democrat in 1980s

Miers is a former Democrat who became a leader in Texas’ moderate Republican legal establishment. In 1987 and 1988, when Miers was a conservative Democrat in Texas, she donated $3,000 to Democratic campaign committees -- $1,000 each to then-Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee, who was running for president, to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, who was running for re-election, and to the Democratic National Committee.
Source: Dave Montgomery and Max Baker, San Jose Mercury News , Oct 4, 2005

First woman president of Texas Bar

Bush used the phrase “first woman” five times in his nomination announcement, pointing out that Miers had blazed a trail for women in the male-dominated world of corporate law in Texas, eventually becoming president of the State Bar in 1992. After Bush’s election as Governor of Texas in 1994, Bush appointed her to head the Texas Lottery Commission. She later followed Bush to the White House, where she held several jobs, and was tapped in 2004 to become White House counsel.
Source: Michael Schere, Der Spiegel (Germany) , Oct 4, 2005

No publications in constitutional law, unlike Roberts

Throughout her career, Miers has had little public involvement in constitutional law. This is in marked contrast to the president’s last nominee, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who was widely seen as one of the nation’s most accomplished constitutional minds, having argued 38 cases before the Supreme Court. Miers published only two scholarly articles -- in Texas Lawyer, a trade magazine. One article concerned the challenges of merging corporate law firms.
Source: Michael Schere, Der Spiegel (Germany) , Oct 4, 2005

Served one term on Dallas City Council and then bowed out

Ask what motivated her to seek election to the Dallas City Council in the late 1980s, she says only: “I was asked to run.” Ask why she bowed out after one term, and she is only a bit more expansive. The structure of the council had changed, she explains, converting her citywide seat into one representing one district. That did not suit her interest, so she moved on. “It was a natural progression,” she said.
Source: Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post , Jun 21, 2005

Low-key but high-precision style

Miers’s low-key but high-precision style is particularly valued in a White House where discipline in publicly articulating policy and loyalty to the president are highly valued. Formerly Bush’s personal lawyer, Miers came with him to the White House in 2001 as staff secretary, the person who screens all the documents that cross the president’s desk. She was promoted to deputy chief of staff before Bush named her counsel. She replaced Alberto Gonzales, who was elevated to attorney general.
Source: Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post , Jun 21, 2005

Other Justices on Principles & Values: Harriet Miers on other issues:
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Sonia Sotomayor
Clarence Thomas

Former Justices:
David Souter
Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
John Paul Stevens

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Page last updated: Mar 08, 2014