Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet
in a press conference with President Bush.
President George W. Bush once called
his mystery Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers "a pit
bull in size six shoes." This courtroom Cujo is going
to bite someone in the rear and the roiling debate is whether
she takes a chunk out of the right or left cheek.
No one really knows and if the John
Roberts confirmation hearings are any indication a tight leash
and a muzzle will keep us from finding out the answer before
she is confirmed.
"We just don't know anything about her," said Nancy
Keenan, president of Naral, Pro-Choice America.
The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page called
her nomination, "a Texas mystery" and a "Faith-based
Miers' record is a Rorschach test. If
one views the nomination with the attitude that the glass
is half full, it can appear Miers is a friend. If one looks
through a more negative prism, Miers can seem quite hostile.
Harriet Miers certainly does not fit the profile of a right-wing
fundamentalist. She is a career woman who has never been married
or had children. Bush appointed her to head the Texas State
Lottery, surely angering fundamentalists who believe gambling
is sinful. She once gave a campaign contribution to Al Gore
and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is going out
of his way to commend her nomination.
In 1989, during her successful campaign for a seat on the
Dallas City Council, Miers favored equal rights for gay people
and said that the city had a duty to fund AIDS education and
"She was not hostile nor did she
come across as some kind of right-wing ideologue," said
Louise Young, a Dallas software engineer and former co-chair
of the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas.
While on the Council, Miers appointed prominent gay attorney
Don McCleary to a city board that oversees federal grants.
"I can't say policy wise that she
will be good on our issues," Lerro told The New York
Blade. "But on a personal level, she was very open to
having gay people serve on boards and commissions."
As we know, the only thing that matters to Neo-Puritans is
opposition to abortion and homosexuals. Bush's choice of a
relatively unknown crony who may not be in the mold of Antonin
Scalia or Clarence Thomas has made some apoplectic.
"Conservatives feel betrayed,"
screamed legendary right-wing direct mail guru Richard Viguerie.
"The ramifications will be felt not just against him
[Bush] but against the Republican Party," warned Gary
Bauer, president of American Values. Meanwhile, The Weekly
Standard's William Kristol said the nomination made him "disappointed,"
"depressed" and "demoralized." We can
only hope his health insurance covers Prozac.
To mollify disgruntled right-wingers,
Vice President Dick Cheney scrambled to the airwaves to make
a fairly convincing conservative case for Miers on the Sean
Hannity and Rush Limbaugh talk radio shows.
In her run for the Dallas City Council in 1989, she filled
out a questionnaire saying that she was in favor of sodomy
laws that could imprison gay people. Perhaps her views have
changed, as have those of the Supreme Court, with its landmark
ruling in 2003 that sodomy laws are unconstitutional. But
if she still rejects a fundamental right to privacy, her nomination
is worthy of a filibuster.
On abortion, Miers fought tooth and
nail against an American Bar Association (ABA) resolution
that spoke in favor of Roe v. Wade. However, it is possible,
though unlikely, that she opposed the plank because of her
belief that the ABA should not take stands on controversial
issues. Conservatives also tout a $150 donation she gave at
a supper for Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) sponsored by an anti-abortion
Her conservative credentials have led some leading Neo-Puritans
to back her nomination, with Focus on the Family's usually
mercurial leader James Dobson supporting her by cryptically
saying, "Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk
Of course, Miers' relationship with
the president is troubling. Her recent commitment to conservative
Christianity also raises serious alarm bells. But even the
significance of her membership in the Valley View Christian
Church is frustratingly ambiguous. Her church professes the
uncompromising evangelical view of the Bible as "the
only infallible, inspired, authoritative Word of God."
But it also asserts, "not to be dogmatic about matters
on which believers hold divergent views."
In making up my mind, I want to know three things:
Have Miers' views evolved on right to privacy issues, such
as abortion and sodomy?
Exactly what does James Dobson know that he is not at liberty
to talk about?
Has her new commitment to evangelical Christianity swung her
to the right on social issues?
Everyone has an opinion on the pit bull, but someone has
to be right, while those who guessed wrong could end up in
the judicial doghouse for decades to come.