President Bush was aware of the views Miers had held before he picked her for the court
The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers has caused quite a controversy in the US government, when it became known that she could ban abortions once she becomes the judge. Miers appeared to gain some ground with Republicans and lose some with Democrats on Tuesday after she turned over to senators a 57-page background questionnaire and 12 boxes of supporting documents.
Republicans who had expressed reservations about her nomination focused on one of those pages: a 10-question survey dating to 1989 from Texans United for Life in which she said, as a candidate for the Dallas City Council, that she favored outlawing abortion except to save the life of a mother.
As a candidate for the Dallas City Council in 1989, Harriet E. Miers characterized herself as being opposed to abortion and assured a local advocacy group that she would "actively support" legislation to severely restrict the procedure should the Supreme Court ever overturn its decision in Roe vs. Wade. Her reluctance has fired the consternation of both Republicans and Democrats who wonder what role she might play if given a lifelong seat on the nation's highest court. Some Democrats, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, described Miers' responses on abortion as cause for concern. Feinstein has previously said she would find it hard to vote for someone who she believed would vote to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision that established a right to abortion. Other Democrats noted that Miers was running for the Dallas City Council at the time and considered her answers those of a politician, not a judge - a stance echoed by the White House.
The nomination of Miers has put Democrats and Republicans on the same side on some issues. Senators of both parties complain about her lack of judicial experience or evidence of her judicial philosophy, and are calling on her to be more forthcoming. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who met with Miers on Monday, said the information she had provided had left him unsure of her views on important matters.
President Bush knew of the views she had held before he picked her for the court, spokesman Scott McClellan said at the White House. But he said the president “did not discuss with her or anyone else whether or not those were still her views.''
Bush nominated Miers three weeks ago to succeed retiring Sandra Day O'Connor, the justice who has cast the pivotal vote in a string of 5-4 rulings in recent years that sustained abortion rights, upheld affirmative action and limited the application of the death penalty. Many Republicans had hoped Bush would pick a prominent conservative with a long record on abortion and other issues rather than a 60-year-old White House counsel whose private law practice consisted almost entirely of representing corporate clients.
Harriet Ellan Miers was born in Dallas on Aug. 10, 1945. Miers received her bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1967 and JD in 1970 from Southern Methodist University. Miers is the current White House Counsel in the Republican administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. She was Bush's personal lawyer, White House staff secretary, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy prior to her appointment as White House Counsel to replace Alberto Gonzales when he became Attorney General. Prior to her service in the Bush administration, Miers was a lawyer in private practice for 27 years, mostly handling business cases, and served as the first female president of both the Dallas Bar Association and later the State Bar of Texas. She also served one term on the Dallas City Council.
On October 3, 2005, President Bush nominated Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who in July 2005 announced her retirement pending the confirmation of a successor. Miers has never served before as a judge, which is somewhat unusual among recently appointed justices.