News Analysis

DALLAS — In 1991, corporate lawyer Harriet Miers answered a questionnaire from The Dallas Morning News. In response to the cue “Behind my back, people say…,” she wrote, “They can’t figure me out.”

Now George W. Bush has nominated her to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. Bush may be banking on the lack of information about Miers’ views to help push her confirmation through the Senate.

If Miers has an outstanding attribute, it appears to be her ability to obscure people’s past behaviors and future intentions. After serving as Bush’s personal lawyer in the early 1990s, she was hired by his gubernatorial re-election campaign in 1998 to make sure that his past record, including his shoddy military history in the Air National Guard, would not cancel his electability.

Before long, she was handling the legal aspects of allowing presidential and vice-presidential candidates (Bush and Cheney) to run for office even though they both lived in the same state. She was deeply involved in the 2000 campaign and stopping the Florida recount. She is now his chief White House lawyer.

No one can find a written version of her opinions because, like any corporate lawyer, she has kept them to herself. There is no track record of her legal decisions because Miers has never been a judge.

Miers’ corporate law practice indicates her membership in Bush’s anti-worker club. Jordan Barab, who writes the worker health and safety Confined Spaces blog, reports that Miers’ law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, had active “union avoidance” and “OSHA defense” programs during her tenure there.

Some of Miers’ personal friends and associates have indicated that she opposes abortion. She made at least one small donation to an anti-abortion group. Her minister, the Rev. Ron Key, says his Valley View Christian Church opposes abortion, but won’t comment about her views.

Miers served on the Dallas City Council from 1989 to 1991. She also headed the State Lottery Commission under then-Gov. Bush. She was the first woman to head the Dallas County Bar Association, and then the Texas Bar Association. The Dallas Morning News reported that in 1993, Miers convinced the bar association to change its position from pro-choice to neutrality on the abortion issue.

Progressive activists here don’t recall much about her, if they recall her at all.

Some practical-minded observers say one time-tested way to evaluate this Bush-crony nominee: We know people by the company they keep!