The more I know, the more I like Harriet Miers

Friday, October 14, 2005

The more I know, the more I like Harriet Miers

The title of this piece alone is enough to cause more Miers-induced fits on the right,"Window Into Miers' Legal Thinking in the 1990s Reflects a Glint of Liberalism."
The written record of President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court is meager. But her musings in the Texas Bar Journal in 1992 and 1993 offer a window into a different era for Miers.

At the time, she was perched atop a fractious organization of 55,000 lawyers that included law-and-order prosecutors, boardroom advisors and legal clinicians paid in chickens on the border. The crosscurrents were fierce, and Miers fought them by choosing a path that could safely be described as politically moderate and, at times, liberal — by Texas standards anyway.

She called for increased funding for legal services for the poor and suggested that taxes might have to be raised to achieve the notion of "justice for all."

She praised the benefits of diversity, called for measures that would send more minority students to law schools, and said that just because a woman was the head of the state bar did not mean that "all unfair barriers for women have been eradicated."

She was upset that although poverty was rising in Texas, impoverished families received a disproportionately small share of welfare and Medicaid benefits.

And she was an unapologetic defender of her profession, even the oft-maligned "trial lawyer."

"Lawyers are about seeking the truth, preserving a system to achieve fairness and justice and protecting the freedom of individuals against the tyranny of the majority view," she wrote.

Miers is believed to have undergone something of a political evolution since then.

Still, her emerging record as a lawyer in Texas could foment concern among conservatives that she would not be a reliable ally — and maybe it should, said Jim Parsons, a state district judge from Palestine, Texas, a friend of Miers' and a self-described "dyed-in-the-wool Democrat" who supports her nomination.
"I've never known her to be either a bra-burning Democrat or the comparable Republican," said Parsons, who was president of the bar in 1990 and 1991. "She's just not an ideologue."
I know it is believed that she has undergone some kind of political (de)evolution since then, but so far I haven't seen any evidence supporting it. Regardless, this certainly doesn't give much credence to Bush's promise that she'll never change on the bench, that she will be a reliably stalwart conserative. It's also supports the emerging consensus that Bush really did break his promise to the right, that Harriet is no Scalia or Thomas clone.

Frankly it's enough for me that she's not an idealogue and that she has a not-too-distant history of writing like a thoughtful, moderate liberal.

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