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Right Wing Blogger Survey on Miers

Right Wing News has conducted a non-scientific survey among right-wing bloggers about President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Before summarizing the results, let me just say that I don't think bloggers or Senators should have a fixed opinion of the nomination before the confirmation hearings. No one has heard a word from Ms. Miers yet. She deserves the opportunity to be heard before her nomination is either condemned or championed.

That said, while I'm pleased to see so many right wing bloggers down on Bush, we have to keep the reason in mind: They expected Bush to nominate a right-wing extremist and an ideologue and they don't see one in Ms. Miers.

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Questioning Dobson

by TChris

Karl Rove talked to James Dobson about Harriet Miers before her nomination was announced. Dobson has been telling his followers, with a wink and a nudge, that he has the inside skinny on Miers (information he "probably shouldn't know"). Dobson won't reveal his source or the precise content of his intelligence. At least, he won't reveal it without a subpoena. The New York Times reports,

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and several Democrats on the committee said Sunday that they were considering calling the evangelical conservative James C. Dobson to testify on what he has been told about Harriet E. Miers, the president's Supreme Court nominee.

Dobson isn't entitled to have double-secret information about Miers. Specter has it right:

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Yet Another View on Harriet Miers

Deepak Chopra, writing at Huffington Post, says Justice Grows to the Left. On Harriet Miers, he makes this excellent point:

In Ms. Miers we seem to have someone who is a blank slate, but whose private inclinations are tolerant, cautious, compassionate to the underprivileged, and politically flexible. On the surface her nomination is unfair, in that she seems to have a private agreement on ideology with the President and no public trail; therefore, she is immune to being examined. Matters are made worse by Pres. Bush's wink-and-a-nod comments implying that she has her marching orders and will be a loyal foot soldier. That demeans both Ms. Miers and the Court itself.

If indeed her flaw is rigid loyalty to the right wing, we are no worse off than if the President had nominated another Scalia. But if Miers grows to the left, which is to say, if she begins to empathize with America's vast, diverse population instead of the rich white males who have determined her fate so far, the country will be well served by her.

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Miers on the Dallas City Council

by TChris

Harriet Miers served one term on the Dallas City Council. A WaPo article summarizes her mixed record.

She would meet with abortion rights advocates and gay rights activists but tell them firmly she did not agree with them. She backed a redistricting plan aimed at electing more minorities even though conservatives called it a quota system. She voted to raise taxes two years in a row, disagreeing with some colleagues who favored deeper budget cuts.

Miers told gay activists that she could not support the repeal of a Texas law banning sodomy. On the other hand, she stated in a questionnaire for the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas that she supported equal rights for gays.

Abortion rights activists asked Miers if she supported an ordinance that protected abortion clinic patients from harassment.

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Differing Views on Harriet Miers

Eric Muller at Is That Legal goes negative on Miers as a result of the RNC conference call I mentioned yesterday. Armando at Daily Kos says Eric makes some good points. The telephone conference was spin (not fact) by Republicans to garner support amongst their own for Miers. I think we should let Ms. Miers speak for herself at the confirmation hearings before deciding whether to support or oppose her nomination.

I prefer Law Prof Marci Hamilton's take - that all indications are that she's a centrist in the mold that George Bush used to be before the radical right got ahold of him. And that she'll stay that way.

As to what kind of judge she would be, Professor Hamilton writes:

In any event, she is clearly not an ideologue who has devoted her life to the goal of overturning Roe....What will happen if (and when) Miers's personal independence is combined with the independence of the judiciary? I think one can expect that she will not follow political guidelines, but rather, keep her own counsel and make her own, independent decisions. One can only wait in tense anticipation to see what Senator Santorum will have to say about having such a woman on the Supreme Court!

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Friday Funnies

by TChris

From Eleanor Clift:

More evidence they’re drinking Kool-Aid in the White House: David Frum, a former White House speechwriter, reported on his blog that [Harriet] Miers once told him that Bush was “the most brilliant man she’d ever met.” What will happen when she has a conversation with Justice Antonin Scalia? Will her head explode?

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RNC Conference Call on Harriet Miers

Crooks and Liars has a sooper-dooper double secret agent who sent him this audio of Ken Mehlman's RNC blogger conference call on Harriet Miers.

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Conservatives Snipe About Miers

by TChris

Children at play:

At one point in the first of the two off-the-record sessions, according to several people in the room, White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism." Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back.

The irate conservatives then resorted to the time-honored insult repeller, "I'm rubber and you're glue ..."

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Harriet Miers: Support for Women's Rights

Via a Daily Kos Diary and the Chronicle of Higher Education (source corrected):

For someone both heralded and feared as a potentially conservative voice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers has played a key role in exposing college students to some unmistakably liberal ideas.

In the late 1990s, as a member of the advisory board for Southern Methodist University's law school, Ms. Miers pushed for the creation of an endowed lecture series in women's studies named for Louise B. Raggio, one of the first women to rise to prominence in the Texas legal community. A strong advocate for women, Ms. Raggio helped persuade state lawmakers to revise Texas laws to give women new rights over property and in the event of divorce.

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Harriet Miers: Strong Supporter of Indigent Defense

Via Sentencing Law and Policy and How Appealing, comes more evidence that Harriet Miers has long been a strong supporter of legal services to the poor. Professor Berman asks:

These issues are, of course, interesting as a matter of criminal justice policy, but they are also potentially significant as a matter of constitutional doctrine. More than a few academics have forcefully advocated that some indigent defense systems are per se constitutionally ineffective because of a lack of adequate funding. Might a Justice Miers be more sympathetic to claims of this sort — or ineffective assistance of counsel claims more generally — than some of her future colleagues?

Related post on published letter on the topic here.

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O'Connor and Miers: Peas in a Pod?

Atrios brings back the memories of Sandra Day O'Connor's pre-confirmation beliefs on abortion.

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Harriet Miers: Pro-Life and Pro-Roe v. Wade?

Many of the quotes the White House is using to persuade conservatives that Harriet Miers is one of them seem to be coming from Texas Supreme Court Judge Nathan Hecht, who describes himself as a 30 year friend and sometimes date of Ms. Miers. He was a junior colleague at the law firm she co-managed, and according to him, in large part responsible for her conversion to born-again Christianity.

The White House included Hecht on at least one of the conference calls it conducted Monday to shore up support for Miers Monday.

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Miers Is Not Unqualified From Lack of Judicial Experience

by Last Night in Little Rock

The pundits, even the late night talk show hosts, are harping on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' lack of judicial experience. Everyone should know that this is NOT a disqualification if she has the mind for and the ability to handle the job. What are her skills as a legal thinker? Has she proved them? Those should be the primary questions, not whether she knows the right person or asked Bush for the job.

About half of all Supreme Court Justices lacked prior judicial experience. Most of the recent ones had some judicial experience, but some significant ones did not. Let's just work backwards:

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Harriet Miers Writing on Criminal Justice

Law Prof Doug Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy found this commentary written by Harriet Miers and published in the Texas Lawyer in July, 1992. Read the whole thing, it should bring some measure of comfort to criminal defense lawyers. Here's some of it:

All lawyers, not just those involved in the criminal justice system, should have an interest in efforts to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system. The State Bar and the Texas Young Lawyers Association conducted 15 hearings across the state concerning pro bono issues. These hearings provided a clear picture that inadequacies exist in the resources available to provide constitutionally required indigent criminal defense.

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Things I Did and Didn't Say About Harriet Miers

It probably was bound to happen now that three lawyers are writing for Talkleft. The National Journal's Blogometer quotes me as saying:

"Miers falls into the black hole of controversial nominees that "Advise and Consent" should reject.

Not so. I do not think Harriet Miers is controversial or should be rejected. That particular post clearly states it was written by Last Night in Little Rock, who is John Wesley Hall.

For those of you who are new to TalkLeft, all posts are written by Jeralyn Merritt unless they say at the top "by TChris" or "by Last Night in Little Rock." TChris is T. Christopher Kelly. The Blogometer has graciously agreed to correct its post, but it probably has already gone to Lexis as being written by me so I wanted to correct the record.

As to things I did say, here's an audio interview (mp3) that Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush and I did yesterday for BBC World News Radio on Ms. Miers.

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