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Harriet Miers: Strong Supporter of Indigent Defense

Via Sentencing Law and Policy and How Appealing, comes more evidence that Harriet Miers has long been a strong supporter of legal services to the poor. Professor Berman asks:

These issues are, of course, interesting as a matter of criminal justice policy, but they are also potentially significant as a matter of constitutional doctrine. More than a few academics have forcefully advocated that some indigent defense systems are per se constitutionally ineffective because of a lack of adequate funding. Might a Justice Miers be more sympathetic to claims of this sort — or ineffective assistance of counsel claims more generally — than some of her future colleagues?

Related post on published letter on the topic here.

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O'Connor and Miers: Peas in a Pod?

Atrios brings back the memories of Sandra Day O'Connor's pre-confirmation beliefs on abortion.

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Harriet Miers: Pro-Life and Pro-Roe v. Wade?

Many of the quotes the White House is using to persuade conservatives that Harriet Miers is one of them seem to be coming from Texas Supreme Court Judge Nathan Hecht, who describes himself as a 30 year friend and sometimes date of Ms. Miers. He was a junior colleague at the law firm she co-managed, and according to him, in large part responsible for her conversion to born-again Christianity.

The White House included Hecht on at least one of the conference calls it conducted Monday to shore up support for Miers Monday.

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Miers Is Not Unqualified From Lack of Judicial Experience

by Last Night in Little Rock

The pundits, even the late night talk show hosts, are harping on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' lack of judicial experience. Everyone should know that this is NOT a disqualification if she has the mind for and the ability to handle the job. What are her skills as a legal thinker? Has she proved them? Those should be the primary questions, not whether she knows the right person or asked Bush for the job.

About half of all Supreme Court Justices lacked prior judicial experience. Most of the recent ones had some judicial experience, but some significant ones did not. Let's just work backwards:

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Harriet Miers Writing on Criminal Justice

Law Prof Doug Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy found this commentary written by Harriet Miers and published in the Texas Lawyer in July, 1992. Read the whole thing, it should bring some measure of comfort to criminal defense lawyers. Here's some of it:

All lawyers, not just those involved in the criminal justice system, should have an interest in efforts to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system. The State Bar and the Texas Young Lawyers Association conducted 15 hearings across the state concerning pro bono issues. These hearings provided a clear picture that inadequacies exist in the resources available to provide constitutionally required indigent criminal defense.

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Things I Did and Didn't Say About Harriet Miers

It probably was bound to happen now that three lawyers are writing for Talkleft. The National Journal's Blogometer quotes me as saying:

"Miers falls into the black hole of controversial nominees that "Advise and Consent" should reject.

Not so. I do not think Harriet Miers is controversial or should be rejected. That particular post clearly states it was written by Last Night in Little Rock, who is John Wesley Hall.

For those of you who are new to TalkLeft, all posts are written by Jeralyn Merritt unless they say at the top "by TChris" or "by Last Night in Little Rock." TChris is T. Christopher Kelly. The Blogometer has graciously agreed to correct its post, but it probably has already gone to Lexis as being written by me so I wanted to correct the record.

As to things I did say, here's an audio interview (mp3) that Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush and I did yesterday for BBC World News Radio on Ms. Miers.

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Interview With Harriet Miers' Pastor

Here's an interview with Pastor Ron Key, who until a few weeks ago, was Ms. Miers' pastor at the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. The radio host conducting the interview says it's proof that Ms. Miers is anti-abortion, but the interview doesn't bear that out.

It shows she's very faith based, and that her Church is pro-life and against gay marriages. But, Pastor Key admits he has not talked to her about those issues. On the other hand, he says she is the same kind of person as Priscilla Owen and that they are good friends.

I don't think anyone really doubts that Ms. Miers is pro-life, but if she has gone through her career not publicly stating her view, maybe she will not let her personal views affect her rulings as a Judge. I'm also getting tired of the abortion debate. It's not the only important issue. I'm far more concerned with her position on criminal justice and civil liberties issues.

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Bush Didn't Ask Miers About Abortion Views

President Bush told reporters today he didn't ask Ms. Miers her views on abortion. That's not surprising.

The Associated Press (Feb. 2, 1992) (available on Lexis.com) reported on Ms. Miers' participation in an American Bar Association panel discussion on Supreme Court nominations. The panel was asked whether a President, who was elected partially based on his abortion stance, should ask a potential nominee about his or her views on abortion.

You've been elected president of the United States, in part due to your views on abortion. In picking a Supreme Court justice, would you ask apotential nominee how he or she will vote in abortion- related cases?

...."Nominees are clearly prohibited from making such a commitment and presidents are prohibited from asking for it," said Harriet Miers, a Dallas lawyer and president-elect of the State Bar of Texas.
She said people who think such inquiries are proper display "a misunderstanding of the separation of powers by proposing that judicial nominees should mirror a president's views."

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Miers: The Ultimate Faith-Based Nomination

My thoughts on the implications of Harriet Miers' nomination for the radical right, and some blogger reaction from both sides, are over at Eric Alterman's Altercation today in another edition of Scoring Scotus. A snippet:

In order to accept Ms. Miers, evangelicals will have to place blind faith in the promise by Cheney and Bush that she's one of them. Even though faith lies at the core of their existence, with the stakes so high on abortion, gay rights and other hot-button issues, Miers' nomination may put that faith to the ultimate test.

....If there was any common ground between the right and left Monday, it was over the lack of available information on Miers. While ultimately, Republican Senators and influential evangelists may be willing to take the Bush Leap of Faith, Democrats must demand more.

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Miers In On 8/6/01 "Briefing" on Bin Laden Memo

by Last Night in Little Rock

Editor and Publisher reports today that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is in the photograph of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, and it was on the front page of yesterday's NY Times without a specific date.

E&P also reports the conflicting nature of how news outlets played the picture. AP sent it out with the correct date, and many papers apparently did not appreciate the date or the photograph. The Times downplayed the omission of the date as lacking significance. HA!

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Miers' Law Firm Paid $22M to Settle Fraud Claim

by Last Night in Little Rock

Yes, TChris, the hits do just keep on coming.

Just when we thought that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers had no paper trail, we find that the law firm that she was heading at the time paid $22M to settle a class action law suit for assisting law firm clients in defrauding investors, as noted here and picked up by HuffingtonPost.com. The original source: No less than the Class Action Newsletter (May 1, 2000).

It gets better.

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The Bad and the Good

by TChris

James Ridgeway writes about the biggest fear surrounding the Miers nomination:

Above all, Miers is loyal to President Bush. It’s hard to imagine her putting faithfulness to the Supreme Court above faithfulness to the Bush family.

Ridgeway also writes about the best news surrounding the nomination: the degree to which the right wing feels betrayed. "They’re howling with dismay," says Ridgeway.

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