Some critics are already dismissing Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court as a 'Blank' slate. While the sixty-year-old single Miers has never been a judge, she is intimately acquainted with the criminal justice system. Known as Harri to her friends, Ms. Miers ran away from home while just a teenager, becoming in her own words "a boozer, a user and a two-time loser," before going back to school at the age of 46.
From 'stealing the TV' to the highest court in the land
WASHINGTON, DC—Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, may never have been a judge. But sources close to the 60-year-old Miers say that she is intimately acquainted with the criminal justice system. Known as Harri to her friends, Ms. Miers ran away from home while still a teenager, becoming in her own words "a boozer, a user and a two-time loser," before going back to school at the age of 46. Critics warn that Ms. Miers is essentially a 'Blank' slate when it comes to the hot-button cultural issues that will fill the Supreme Court's docket this fall. Meanwhile, viewers of every stripe are casting a wary eye upon 'Harri's' past performances. Here is a look.
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy will no doubt want to know where nominee Miers stands on key civil rights issues, including the Voting Rights Act. But sources close to Ms. Miers say that she has been a visible and dramatic supporter of such issues, beginning with her starring—and stirring—turn as Mama in the play "A Raisin in the Sun" while in school fourteen years ago. "She had us on the edge of our seats," says a classmate who was in the audience at Flatpoint High when Harri made her debut. "She'll be a great Supreme Court justice."
Abstinence may be a controversial issue on Capitol Hill these days, but President Bush's pick has been outspoken about the importance of remaining chaste. While still in school, Harri was widely credited with inspiring an abstinence movement among her female classmates, who wore buttons proclaiming 'never been touched.' While Ms. Miers has been quiet on the issue in recent years, her previous decision to embrace abstinence should prove reassuring to conservative Christians.
Americans with disabilities
The Supreme Court will likely revisit the Americans with Disabilities Act in coming years—so where does President Bush's nominee stand on Americans with Disabilities? Right next to them, if Harri's past performance is any indicator of future legal decisions. Her classmate's recall the role she played in advocating for a blind student who wanted to join the high school football team. "She even wore a blindfold so that she could see for herself what it's like to be blind," remembers one longtime friend. "That shows you the kind of Justice she'll be."
Despite following a path to the highest court in the land that has been anything but typical, Ms. Miers does share some traits in common with newly-confirmed Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Like the Chief Justice, Harri was also known as a master debater while in school, and was even a member of the debate team for a short time. While she was ultimately forced to leave the team due to health complications, her unique debating style is fondly recalled by those who witnessed it.
Things haven't always been easy for the potential Justice. After returning to high school at the age of 46, Harri endured public humiliation when it was revealed that she could neither read nor write, a prerequisite for joining the cheerleading team—and the Supreme Court. Sources close to the nominee say that years of tutoring and intensive use of flashcards have helped her overcome this challenge. "That was a dark time for Harri," recalls a former teacher. "To go from not being able to spell 'OK' to being nominated for the Supreme Court is just tremendous."
Do you think that Chuck Noblet or Geoffrey Jellineck might have been better picks to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? Talk back to Russell D'Arby.