A Dallas woman considers the Miers nomination

Commentary

Perhaps no single government appointment has the potential to affect a citizen’s quality of life more than that of a Supreme Court justice. Yet, by nominating his White House counsel, Harriet Miers, a person previously responsible for reviewing possible replacements for outgoing Justice O’Connor, George W. Bush demonstrates a lack of understanding and insensitivity to the needs and concerns of the public.

Missing an opportunity to promote an individual with a brave vision for a fair and just future for all, Bush has stuck to his pattern of appointing friends and big campaign donors to high positions. If the Senate confirms Miers, the consequences of her influence will impact women, minorities and workers for decades.

That Miers will most certainly bring to the high court a pro-business/anti-consumer/anti-labor bias is unquestioned. Her background as a corporate attorney representing such clients as Microsoft and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association against consumers is a matter of public record. Her reputation as a highly successful class action and antitrust litigator helped to propel her to leadership positions with the Dallas Bar Association and Texas State Bar.

Currently, the Supreme Court has a large number of antitrust, taxation, and employment cases pending for the next session. It isn’t difficult to guess which side of the law Miers will come down on when the issues are fair pay or whistle blowing.

The Dallas Morning News and big business groups lavishly praise Miers for having once voted with racial minority interests here, but they aren’t looking at the facts. In 1989, Miers was elected as an at-large member of the Dallas City Council. She served a single two-year term. At that time, the city was under a court order requiring Dallas to create a multi-district-based (“single-member”) city council, enabling better representation of the city’s minorities.

Former minority leaders who served with her praise her willingness to listen to their constituents; however, Miers continued to fight for at-large representation even after the federal mandate. Given the heated and divisive climate permeating the city and the council during her term, lending an ear to the opposition was politically expedient for big business.

Additionally, it is unlikely that Miers acted in any way contrary to the desires of the powerful Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the Citizen’s Alliance, entities that truly control and determine most decisions. When these business leaders had given up on the idea of retaining an at-large city council, Miers dropped the cause. Had Miers actually “heard” the voices she has been credited with listening to, she might have changed her position years earlier.

Workers, consumers and minorities are not the only people absent from Miers’ record of advocacy. Women and families will not rate in her decision making either. The revelation of her answers on a candidate questionnaire submitted by an anti-choice organization in 1989 is unambiguous and disturbing. Miers responded in the affirmative on 10 out of 10 questions, indicating, among other things, her willingness to use her office to promote the so-called “pro-life cause” and to “refuse the endorsement of any organization” that supports pro-choice work. Clearly, women’s reproductive rights will be threatened. For all of the administration’s talk about not having a litmus test, it certainly appears that Miers does!

While Bush’s nomination of Miers was intended in some ways to placate those calling for more female representation on the high court, the public should not expect Miers to advocate any cause other than big business. Harriet Miers will disappoint all who long for equality and justice.