Harriet Miers – Slumlord & Privacy Lover?

Ken AshfordSupreme CourtLeave a Comment

About the only good thing anybody could say about Bush’s No. 1 fan is that she was "a meticulous, detail-oriented attorney who is always well prepared."

Except, perhaps, when it comes to being a landlord?

The year Harriet Miers began work as a senior presidential aide in the White House, the city of Dallas slapped three liens in three months on a property she controls in a low-income minority Dallas neighborhood, records show.

It was not the first time the city had to take action. Records show that since Miers assumed power of attorney for her ailing mother in 1995, the city has issued seven other liens on vacant lots that Miers controls in the same neighborhood around Tipton Park.

But the true flap is Miers on the issue of privacy:

As the White House renewed its attempts to rally backing for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, her views — or non-views — on a key privacy case appeared to ignite more controversy.

Miers spent much of Monday on Capitol Hill visiting with senators, among them Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter.

After their meeting, Specter told reporters that Miers said she believed the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut — a landmark ruling establishing the right to privacy — was "rightly decided."

But when the White House took exception to Specter’s comments, the Pennsylvania Republican released a statement saying Miers later called him to tell him he had "misunderstood" her answer.

Specter said Miers, in the later phone call, told him she had not taken a position on either Griswold or the right to privacy, the legal underpinning for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Now, I can understand why Miers might avoid taking a stance on Roe v. Wade — it is controversial and the issue of abortion may come to the Supreme Court.  But Griswald was a case about contraception — specifically, whether the state can outlaw contraception for married couples.  It astounds me that in this day and age, any person would think the answer should be "yes". 

Griswald is settled law.  The fact that Miers is refusing to take a stand on it is like her refusing to take a stand on Brown v. Board of Education.  Yes, the Court in Griswald recognized the right of privacy as the basis for its ruling (it did not "establish" that right), but there’s a very good explanation:


If buttinsky big government conservatives think otherwise, fine — please send me your credit card number, or an explanation of why you won’t.

But back to Miers.  It looks like a document has surfaced:

The 1989 questionnaire was designed to gauge candidates’ views on the drive to ban most abortions, either by constitutional amendment or by state law in the event the Supreme Court overturned a 1973 ruling that established abortion rights.

"If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature," asked an April 1989 questionnaire sent out by the Texans United for Life group.

Miers checked "yes" to that question, and all of the group’s questions, including whether she would oppose the use of public moneys for abortions and whether she would use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off city health boards and commissions.

So let’s be clear about this.  Miers was running for political office, and she gets a questionairre from an pro-life group.  Of COURSE she is going to pander.

I think this does not necessarily reflect Mier’s true views about abortion, which (to me) remain a mystery.  I do, however, think it says something about the go-with-the-wind nature of her character.