Friday, October 07, 2005

New Evidence of Harriet Miers' Position on Abortion

Soon after President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, I explained how -- theoretically -- it was possible for Miers to be both born-again and (possibly) pro-choice, and how it was possible for Bush to be born-again and nominate her anyway.

Since then, it's been reported that her buddies confirm my theory (okay, they didn't put it exactly that way) that there's nothing in her religion that prevents her from opposing abortion, while still considering it a personal matter (and, therefore, one of choice). It's being reported today that Miers is ducking the Roe v. Wade question in her Senate briefings.

Now, I've dug up some additional circumstantial evidence that also points to the possibility that Miers is pro-choice (and, certainly, at the very least, lacks the anti-choice fanaticism Bush's base demands).

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on some interesting activities of hers involving her alma mater:

In the late 1990s, as a member of the advisory board for Southern Methodist University's law school, Ms. Miers pushed for the creation of an endowed lecture series in women's studies named for Louise B. Raggio, one of the first women to rise to prominence in the Texas legal community. A strong advocate for women, Ms. Raggio helped persuade state lawmakers to revise Texas laws to give women new rights over property and in the event of divorce.

Ms. Miers...not only advocated for the lecture series, but also gave money and solicited donations to help get it off the ground...

A description of the lecture series on Southern Methodist's Web site says it "brings role models of vision and achievement to SMU to speak on gender and women's issues."

The series "expands students' opportunities to hear and interact with nationally renowned speakers in the area of women's studies," the site says...
Speakers have included former Democratic Rep. Patricia Schroeder; Susan Faludi, author of "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women"; former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards; Oxygen network founder Geraldine Laybourne and journalist Gwen Ifill. The inaugural speaker was Gloria Steinem.

More to the point, I did some additional digging about the woman to whom Ms. Miers' lecture series paid tribute. In the Fall 2004 issue of "In Brief," the newsletter of the Texas Women Lawyers association, TWL President Jeanne C. Collins wrote about the lecture series' namesake. It turns out that, in the 1940s, Raggio's third pregnancy posed a "grave risk" to her and her unborn child and she was offered the option of a therapeutic abortion. Like Miers herself, Raggio was an active member of her church. She declined to have the abortion, and bore the child safely to term. But Collins reports that the experience "taught [Raggio] to be an adamant freedom-of-choice advocate. Collins then quotes Raggio herself discussing it:

That experience taught her to be an adamant freedom-of-choice advocate: “Until you go through the mental trauma of making a decision like that, you have no idea how serious and wrenching it is. The issue of pregnancy termination is almost never a clear black-and-white decision; almost never do women easily choose abortion; almost always there are serious consequences for either choice. I have no right to make that choice for anyone except myself and nobody else has the right, certainly no man and no woman unless she has walked in the same shoes, to offer their unsolicited opinion to anyone else.”
Would an anti-choice judge really create a lecture series named after the woman who wrote those words? Would an anti-choice judge really create a lecture series named after a member of the advisory council of Planned Parenthood of North Texas? And would Raggio, after spending her life advancing women's possibilities, really have pushed Miers as the state bar president, as she did, if she felt Miers would undo all her work?

Or is it possible that Bush is right about Miers -- that she won't change and won't become another David Souter -- because she already has? (And if you don't understand how a Bush-appointed born-again Christian could be pro-choice, let alone get his nomination to the high court, please check out my earlier post about the role faith has played in this nomination.)


Rude One said...

I've implied it in my own posts, but I'll say it explicitly here: the Miers nomination ain't about Roe v. Wade. It's about having some insurance on the Supreme Court when it comes down to War on Terror-related issues. It's about saving Bush's ass, not rallying the faithful.

Nice diggin', though.

Rude Pundit

Petty Larseny said...

Hey Rude One,

Nice to see you back here! I actually agree 100% that the appointment is NOT about rallying the faithful. The point I was trying to make is that Bush's faith -- whether he's trying to serve it politically or not -- messes up the way he operates. Hence, his botched nomination of Harriet Miers (and, as I posted earlier, Julie Myers).

Thanks for stopping by. Nice to see you again!


Anonymous said...

In Bush-World, Morality issues of virtue and purity, and Christianity are always positioned on the front burner. But in this Administration, Morality and Ideology are not equavalent, and in picking people for positions, Ideology trumps Morality and Competency, and Loyalty trumps Ideology. In the case of SC appointment of Miers, Loyalty and Considerations of jail time trumps Ideology. Bush has to have a reliable 5th vote on the SC.

skulman58 said...

This is somewhat of a comforting revelation. Nice work. I have to go with RudePundit. It is not about Roe v. Wade. Harriet is a co-conspirator in the torture abuse scandals and the continued presence in Iraq. Appointing her to the Court is guaranteeing at least one more justice will give Bush and his cronies a pass, lest she be prosecuted with them.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought experiment: suppose that Roe is overturned by a SCOTUS majority including Bush appointees and abortion bans are legislated in most states. The anti-abortion movement would then become a largely local movement, and the broader right-to-life movement (which, at least for consistancy's sake includes opposition to capital punishment) would probably not have much urgency. What then happens to the right-to-life segment of the Republican base? Some of those committed to family welfare might drift to the Democrats, many will probably drift out of politics altogether. This, when added to the likelihood of the remaining moderate or libertarian Republicans heading to the exit door, could easily reach numbers large enough to change election results. Where is the political capital to be gained by the Republicans if Roe were to be overturned? I suspect that there is none to be found and that the administration is making a very close calculation on this point.

Anonymous said...

How about this: the reason for stacking the supreme court with "conservative" justices is not to "please the base" or save the unborn chilldren - its about making sure the large corporations have friends in high places.

make no mistake brothers and sisters - as important as keeping Roe v. Wade is, the real danger is a corporatist court (even worse than the one we have now). the supreme court is often the last protection between the people and the corporations that have bought and paid for all 3 branches of government.

these moral issues, although important, are a smokescreen. remember, the so-called "war on terror" is a business venture, not a war.

Jared said...

Hiring a crony (former personal lawyer) to one of the most important positions in the country without having any judicial experience is ridiculous. The only thing to make up for the fact that her views are up in the air is her unfledging support for Bush. It almost negates the conservative Republican worries

Tim Z said...

Wouldn't she have to recuse herself from any case related to Bush?

Anonymous said...

Rude One,

Who cares about what happens to Bush re War on Terror related issues. He's a lame duck already and will be gone in 3 years. The next Supreme Court nominee will be on the court for upwards of 30 years, by that time most people won't even remember who Bush is. I don't care if she saves Bush ass or not if she's good on civil liberties. Liberals have got to stop this obsession they have with Bush being a criminal or whatever; its causing you to lose all perspective.

I should say though that I don't think she will be good on civil liberites, but she may be a whole lot better than whoever would be nominated next (Brown, Owen, Luttig...), if she is rejected.

zennurse said...

"...about Bush being a criminal or whatever..."??? What a telling statement. Excuse me if I'm just a little concerned that the president of the country is less than honest in his dealings with the American People he claims to represent, and conspiring with his minions to run the country into the ground. I honestly don't think this is a "whatever" proposition, whatever your party, not anymore, not ever. Bush's ass doesn't deserve saving under any circumstances, I'm with the Rude One on this, as with most things.

Laura said...

During Clinton's re-election campaign of 1996, I found out that my 82 year old grandmother, a born again, deeply religious Southern Baptist, was a lifelong Democrat. She had never talked politics before, so this shocked her Republican children. But she said simply that the Democrats cared more about the poor. It makes sense with the Bible's emphasis on serving the poor, but that fact seems to be lost on most conservative Christians. But my grandmother was wiser than most. And because of her faith, she was also the least judgemental person I ever knew. She was what I like to think of as a "real" Christian. While I also tend to think she's the exception the rule for a Southern Baptist, I think there may be a few others out there like her. One day, I took her to lunch and she was telling me how my uncle (her youngest) and his wife, right wing Christians even though they have 8 marriages between them, wouldn't vote for Clinton because she was "pro abortion." I was a little stunned to be talking to my elderly grandmother about this, so I just say and listened. Clinton's not "pro" abortion. Nobody's "pro" abortion, she said, but sometimes it's something people have to do in certain circumstances. She felt abortion needed to be legal. I suspect she'd witnessed what illegal abortion is like, but I didn't ask. And now it's too late. But the point to my long, drawn out post is that my grandmother, a born again Southern Baptist, wasn't "pro" abortion, but she certainly was "pro" choice. I don't know anything about Harrie Miers, but it's quite possible there are other born agains with my grandmother's wisdom. I just hope Miers is one of them.

Howling Latina said...

Interesting take.

I, too, wrote about Miers and the very real possibility she is a born-again Christian and still believes in "Render...unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's."

In other words, keep personal views separate from official duty. Sort of like what our constitution prescribes.

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