President Bush today nominated White House Counsel Harriet Miers to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Sandra Day O’Connor. “The good news is that Bush appointed this time a woman to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “It took two tries, but he finally got that part of the equation right. The bad news is that Harriet Miers at this point in time is essentially a stealth candidate for the Supreme Court.”
Miers has been a trailblazer in some respects for women in Texas, as the first woman to lead a major Texas law firm, the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first women president of the Texas Bar Association. However, Miers has no real paper trail on fundamental constitutional questions. What we do know is that she sponsored an unsuccessful resolution that sought to change the American Bar Association’s position supporting abortion rights. We also know that as a member of the Dallas City Council she opposed a redistricting plan supported by African Americans and Latinos that aimed to increase minority representation on the city council. At that time, minorities were actually a majority of the city population, but only held two of the 11 city council seats.
“Today, with so much at stake, with the O’Connor seat as the balancing vote on numerous 5-4 decisions, the public, especially women, deserves to know much more about Harriet Miers,” said Smeal. “This time, the Senate must not only ask tough questions, but if there are no answers, Senators must not confirm her to a lifetime appointment. The rights of women, civil rights, and the constitutional direction of this country are at stake.”
LEARN MORE & DISCUSS at The Smeal Report, a new Ms. blog