President Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers, a
former Dallas lawyer, to take the place of retiring Supreme Court
Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. However, two weeks before
the Senate was set to start hearings on her confirmation, Miers
withdrew her name in light of mounting criticism about her qualifications.
Miers' nomination had been the subject of intense criticism from
both sides of the political aisle since the president announced
her selection Oct. 3, 2005. The complaints surrounded her lack
of legal credentials and longtime association with President Bush.
voiced uncertainty about her political ideologies, and others
cited her reluctance to state her opinions on even established
court precedents as a cause for concern.
On Capitol Hill, there was meager support among Republicans and
it appeared her nomination may not receive the 51 votes needed
in the Senate for passage.
In an Oct. 27, 2005 letter giving official notice of her decision,
Miers thanked President Bush for his support but added, "I
am concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for
the White House and our staff that is not in the best interests
of the country."
President Bush, saying he reluctantly would accept Miers' request,
added it was apparent that Senate demands for internal memos prepared
by Miers as White House counsel would undermine the executive
"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until
they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided
during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would
undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel,"
President Bush said. "Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates
her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional
separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration
Miers was President Bush's personal attorney in Texas, representing
the then-governor in at least one case. She came with him to the
White House in 2001 as staff secretary, the person who screens
the documents that reach his desk, according to the Washington
She was promoted to deputy chief of staff before the president
named her counsel after his re-election in November 2004. She
replaced Alberto Gonzales, who was elevated to attorney general.
In naming her as counsel in November 2004, President Bush called
Miers "a trusted adviser, on whom I have long relied for
straightforward advice. ... She is a talented lawyer whose great
integrity, legal scholarship and grace have long marked her as
one of America's finest lawyers."
Working with a staff of 13 lawyers and in cooperation with the
Justice Department, Miers' office provided guidance on issues
from the legal parameters for the war on terrorism to presidential
speeches, reported the Post.
For the Texas native, her ascent in Washington was just the latest
chapter in what President Bush called a "trailblazing career."
Miers was the first woman elected president of the Texas Bar
Association and was a partner at the Texas law firm of Locke Liddell
& Sapp before coming to Washington.
She was elected as an at-large member of the Dallas City Council
in 1989, and chose not to run for reelection when her two-year
Miers was the first woman hired by Dallas law firm Locke Purnell
Boren Laney & Neely. There, she became a top commercial litigator
with clients such as Microsoft and Walt Disney Co., reported the
Born and raised in Dallas, Miers graduated from Southern Methodist
University with a major in mathematics. She went to law school
at SMU, getting her law degree in 1970.
She is unmarried and has no children.