Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Barking Dogs of Texas

The title of the post is a take on the old line from Sherlock Holmes about the dog that didn't bark.

I've been trying to listen carefully to the dogs that are barking from Texas, the people that have known her best for many years, both friends and foes. (The boldface is mine).

Lorlee Bartos, friend:
"She is on the extreme end of the anti-choice movement," said Lorlee Bartos, who managed Ms. Miers' first and only political campaign and said they discussed abortion once during the race.

Joy Mankoff, foe:
In another instance, candidate Miers agreed to sit down with a group of abortion rights activists. Operation Rescue was staging regular protests at area abortion clinics, and the group of about 10 women who met with Miers wanted to know whether she supported a 1985 city ordinance that protected patients from harassment. Four of the women in attendance said in interviews that Miers was immovable.
"She said, well, I'm sorry, it's murder, and that's that," said Joy Mankoff, founder of a local women's political action network. "There was no room for any discussion."
Although the women left the meeting convinced that Miers was completely opposed to abortion rights, one, liberal lawyer Louise B. Raggio, continued to support Miers and still does. Miers, for her part, has raised money to promote a lecture series on women's issues bearing Raggio's name. The first speaker was feminist Gloria Steinem.

Or Molly Ivins, foe (think Texas' answer to Maureen Dowd):
What the nomination means in larger terms for both law and society is the fifth vote on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Miers had the support of feminists when she ran for office first in the Dallas bar and later when she became the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association, even though the feminists were aware she was anti-choice.
One of Miers' key backers was Louise Raggio, a much-revered Dallas feminist lawyer. The women lawyers groups favored Miers despite her stand on abortion because she was a candidate acceptable to the Establishment, thus making her electable as a woman.
The slightly feminist tinge to her credentials is a plus, but she is quite definitely anti-abortion.
She ran for city council in 1989 as a moderate, but struggled during her interview with the lesbian/gay coalition. (At the time, it would have been considered progressive to even show up.) The Dallas Police Department did not then hire gays or lesbians, and when asked about the policy, Miers replied the department should hire the best-qualified people, the classic political sidestep answer.When pressed, she said she did believe one should be able to legally discriminate against gays, and it is the recollection of two of the organization's officers that the response involved her religious beliefs.

Louise Raggio, SMU feminist: She is not pro-choice. She told us so and stood her ground,” said Louise Raggio, now 85 and the only woman in the graduating law school class at SMU in 1952. “Sure, it concerns me, because I don’t know what she’ll do on Roe versus Wade. But I do know that she’ll stick to the Constitution.”

Ken Rainey, Texas bar:
I have had the privilege to spend many hours working with her both on matters that related to the bar’s role in public service as well as a couple of cases where she and I represented a common client. I can tell you, by whatever standard you choose to judge her, litmus test included, she is, as we say East of the Pine Curtain, ‘good folks’. In addition to that, she is brilliant.
She appears, as I have observed, to be a strict constructionist if by that term one means not using the courthouse or the law to ” legislate from the bench.” On more than one occasion I have been in meetings and conferences with her when she would look over at me or someone and say: “what’s the law?” Not, “what result do you want to squeeze out of the question “, but “what’s the law”?

Colleen McHugh, Texas Bar:
"That she is hard-working explains why she is able to do so much...She is also brilliant."

Ken Starr: (Hannity and Colmes interview)
Starr: I think she's terrific...I've known Harriet Miers for over 15 years....She is enormously talented.
Hannity: Do you have any doubts whatsoever that she's an originalist in the mold of a Scalia or Thomas?...
Starr: ...I don't.

From Kyleen Wright, Texans for Life (via NRO): Harriet Miers gave $150 to the organization — then known as Texans United for Life — in 1989. Miers was a bronze patron for their annual dinner in which Henry Hyde was the keynote speaker. She was listed in the program as a bronze sponsor.

Beldar, Texas lawyer and blogger: I've gotten unsolicited emails from a former professor of hers; a fellow editor on the Southwestern Law Journal; a former colleague in a high leadership position of the State Bar of Texas; several lawyers who've had cases with and against her; and three different lawyers (including a judge) who've practiced with her and/or who describe her as a role model, pioneer, and a personal inspiration. Percentage thanking me for publishing factual and detailed information about Ms. Miers' record: 100 percent. Percentage expressing any doubts about her fitness for the Court based on personal knowledge and dealings with her: Zero.

The notion that Harriet Miers' only qualification, or even her main qualification, is her friendship with Dubya is outrageous.


At Wednesday, 12 October, 2005, Anonymous David Deavel said...

Ah, so her record is clear such that friend and foe alike know what she's about. So, what exactly, dear sir, is so great about a nomination that is both 1) clearly on the side of originalism, pro-life activity, and apple pie (so they say) and 2) lacking in a great resume?

All the left has to do, if she is as on the side of justice as you say, is say she's clearly not a great candidate. So Bush will probably have to fight for his crony anyway--and may just lose. But your defense of Ms. Miers is interesting, despite its flawed premises, dear Brucey.

At Wednesday, 12 October, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are only two votes to reverse Roe on the Court: Scalia and Thomas. Roberts is unknown and Meirs is unknown until she commits on a ruling.
The 1992 Casey decision had Kennedy, Souter, Stephens, Blackmun and O'Connor in the majority. Since then two pro choice justices have been appointed: Ginsberg and Breyer (replacing White a dissenter.)

So the count with O'Connor on the Court is 6/2/1. If Meirs votes pro life it will be 5/3/1. In short, the swing vote on abortion is the next vacancy on the Court.

At Sunday, 16 October, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Exactly. I'm not sure why Ivins thinks that there are currently four votes to overturn Roe on the court, but it does make her column less useful in judging how Miers will rule. Perhaps Ivins got her facts confused (Bob Beckel on Neil Cavuto thought Casey was a 6-3 decision and Dick Morris on Sean Hannity thought O'Connor had voted for every abortion restriction short of undoing Roe, which is of course wrong; I think he was thinking of Kennedy, about whom that is much truer); if so, that tells us more about Ivins laziness in writing columns than it does about Miers, especially in the age of Google. On the other hand, she might have thought Kennedy might switch, which shows that liberal paranoia about Roe being overturned has clouded her judgment. There is a third possibility: she might have been deliberately manipulating leftist paranoia, pretending Kennedy might switch when she really thought that the likelihood is nil (which is the only reasonable position).

Any way you slice it, the Ivins column isn't that useful. Of course the Democrats are going to want to tar a blank slate as being pro-life so they can, at least in their fantasies, defeat him or her. Just look at the NARAL ads about John Roberts, who was replacing the anti-Roe Rehnquist, for evidence of that.


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