The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Bush nominates SMU alumna

President Bush nominated SMU alumna Harriet Miers to replace outgoing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court yesterday in an Oval Office ceremony.

Miers is the current White House counsel and previously served as the president’s personal attorney. She has not previously served in a judicial position.

“I believe the senators of both parties will find that Harriet Miers’ talent, experience, and judicial philosophy make her a superb choice to safeguard the constitutional liberties and equality of all Americans,” Bush said during the ceremony.

During her time to speak, Miers said, “If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and help ensure that the courts meet their obligation to strictly apply the law and the Constitution.”

Miers received both her undergraduate and law degrees from SMU. She graduated with a bachelor’s in mathematics in 1967 and a juris doctor in 1970 from the Dedman School of Law. Miers was one of eight women out of 100 students in her 1970 graduating class.

Alan Bromberg, one of Miers’ law professors who still teaches at SMU, said he felt “great satisfaction” when he heard his former student had been nominated to the Supreme Court.

“I think she’s an extremely competent person and will approach every case evenhandedly,” Bromberg said.

During Miers’ time at SMU she was elected to the honorary society and Mortar Board, in addition to serving on law review. Miers also received the prestigious ‘M’ Award given to students who are especially dedicated to the university.

The university recognized Miers’ accomplishments by bestowing the Distinguished Alumni Award on her in 2002. She received similar recognition from the law school in 1997.

Two years after finishing law school, Miers was the first woman hired by local law firm Locke, Liddell & Sapp. In 1985, she became the first female president of the Dallas Bar Association.

“Her objectivity and open-mindedness have always helped her no matter what she was involved in,” Bromberg said.

She first entered politics when she was elected a member of the Dallas City Council in 1989. She served one term and then became the first female president of the Texas Bar Association.

In 1995, she was appointed as chairwoman of the three-member commission that oversees the state’s lottery operations by then-Gov. Bush. She served there until 2000, when she moved with Bush to Washington to serve in various staff positions.

Brad Cheves, vice president for development and external affairs for SMU, said that the university is, “extremely proud that President Bush has nominated Ms. Miers to the Supreme Court.”

“She is providing an important example to current students in how she approached her studies and took advantage of the opportunities before her,” Cheves said.

The nomination did catch the political world off-guard. Both Democrats and Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the choice.

“We know even less about Harriet Miers than we did about John Roberts, and because this is the critical swing seat on the Court, Americans will need to know a lot more about Miers’ judicial philosophy and legal background before any vote for confirmation,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said, “It has been my expectation that President Bush would nominate someone in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, and it is my hope that Harriet Miers will prove to be such a person.”

SMU political science professor Joseph Kobylka called the nomination, “one of the strangest in recent history.”

Kobylka said Miers has an “impressive array of firsts in private practice,” but there is “precious little to indicate what kind of a justice she would be.”

Bromberg thinks that Miers has a “good combination of private and political experience,” that would help her as a justice.

“It will be interesting to have an appointment without any ideological track record,” Bromberg said.

As far as the hearings, Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he wanted a confirmation vote by Thanksgiving – a compressed, seven-week timetable by recent historical standards.

Some possible challenges could be comparisons to O’Connor, according to Bromberg.

“O’Connor has set a standard for receptivity and open mindedness that will be hard to replace in some eyes,” he said.

Political science professor Patrick Schmidt said, as far as confirmation in the Senate, “the ones who have anything at stake politically will fall into line.”

The last 10 nominations – excluding John Roberts – took an average of 39 days to go from the announcement to hearings. Using that average, Miers’ hearing would start mid-November.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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