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Texan Miers nominated for U.S. Supreme Court

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Texan Harriet Miers, White House counsel to President George W. Bush, today was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Miers, former personal attorney to Bush in Texas, joined the White House staff as Bush's personal secretary when he was elected to his first term. In 2003, she was promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff. She has not, however, ever served as a judge.

In making his nomination, Bush said he has come to agree with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who said judges should be "drawn from a wide diversity of professional backgrounds." Bush said Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court without any prior experience on the bench, as were 35 other justices.

Bush described Miers as an "outstanding woman" with a "similar record of achievement in private practice and public service."

The new Supreme Court nominee is a former Dallas attorney, and was previously president of Locke Purnell, Rain & Harrell, where she began working in 1972. After the company merged, she became co-manager of Locke Liddell & Sapp.

While Bush served as Governor of Texas, he appointed Miers to a six-year term on the Texas Lottery Commission. A former member-at-large on the Dallas City Council, Miers was the first female president of the Texas State Bar. She holds a bachelor's degree and J.D. from Southern Methodist University.

After being nominated, Miers noted that if confirmed, she realizes she will have "a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and Constitution."

Miers' nomination comes only four days after John Roberts, another Bush appointee, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Roberts was nominated following the death last month of former Justice Rehnquist, and begins his term today, Monday, on the nation's high court.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) reacted to the Miers nomination by saying the nominee is someone "we really don't know that much about." Although saying Democrats will "look at this nominee with a complete and open mind," he said members of Congress know even less about Miers than they knew about Roberts regarding judicial philosophy and legal background.

Schumer said because Miers has been nominated for the "swing seat" on the Supreme Court, learning about her judicial philosophy is "even more important." He said there will be the kind of "thorough review" of Miers' previous record and the kinds of questions that Roberts "answered some of, but not enough of" during his confirmation hearings.