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Harriet Miers: Life of a Bush Loyalist

A Miers timeline

Aug. 10, 1945
Harriet Ellan Miers born in Dallas, the fourth of five children.

1963
Graduates from Hillcrest High School in Dallas, where she was a National Merit Scholar, lettered in tennis and was voted most athletic female.

1967
Graduates from Southern Methodist University with a degree in mathematics, finishing school with the help of a scholarship, financial aid and campus job after her father was disabled by a stroke in her freshman year.

1969
Between second and third years at SMU Law School, works as an intern for flamboyant San Francisco trial lawyer Melvin Belli, the “King of Torts.”

1970
Graduates from SMU Law, one of nine women in a class of 143.

1970-72
Clerks for Judge Joe E. Estes on the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

1972
Hired as the first female lawyer at the Dallas law firm of Locke Purnell Rain Harrell.

1978
Makes partner at Locke Purnell Rain Harrell.

1979
Joins the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, where her friend (and then-law partner) Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht is also a member. “Our church is very pro-life. It is not, however, a test of membership,” Valley View minister Barry McCarty told the Boston Globe, Oct 8. 2005.

Jan. 19, 1985
Inaugurated first female president of the Dallas Bar Association.

March 30, 1987
Contributes the maximum $1,000 to reelection campaign of Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.

Feb. 16, 1988
Contributes the maximum $1,000 to Democratic presidential primary campaign of Al Gore.

Nov. 3, 1988
Contributes $1,000 to the Democratic National Committee five days before liberal Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis faces off against then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election.

Jan. 1989
Meets George W. Bush and Laura Bush at an annual political dinner in Austin, before the convening of the state legislature.

March 28, 1989
Campaigning for a seat on the Dallas City Council, attends a steering committee meeting of the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas and fills out a candidate questionnaire even though she stipulates she is not seeking the group’s endorsement. Answers “yes” to the question: “Do you believe that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non-gay men and women?” Answers “No” to the question “Do you, as an individual citizen, support repeal of Section 21:06 of the Texas Penal Code, which criminalizes the private sexual behavior of consenting adult lesbians and gay men?” This was the law later overturned by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas.

May 6, 1989
Elected in a non-partisan election to an at-large seat on the Dallas City Council, where she serves for one term, deciding not to run again.

Oct. 14, 1989
Contributes $150, the minimum level needed to be a “patron” and attend the preliminary reception at the Texans United for Life annual fundraising dinner.

Sept. 17, 1990
Votes as Dallas Councilwoman for a 7% increase in property taxes.

April 15, 1991
According to an article in Texas Lawyer, Miers campaigns for the presidency of the Texas Bar Association arguing that lawyers should encourage local teenagers to stay in school. She avoids taking a position on whether it should be mandatory for lawyers to do pro bono work.

May 1, 1991
Elected first female president of the Texas Bar Association. She officially became president-elect of the association on June 19, 1991, and president in June 1992.

Feb. 2, 1992
Says in a panel discussion at the American Bar Association convention that a potential Supreme Court justice should not tell a President how he or she would vote on abortion-related cases. “Nominees are clearly prohibited from making such a commitment and Presidents are prohibited from asking for it,” she said, adding that anyone who thought such a question would be OK demonstrated “a misunderstanding of the separation of powers by proposing that judicial nominees should mirror a President’s views.”

Dec. 1992
After the ABA decided at its August 1992 convention to take a pro-abortion position, the board of the Texas Bar Association, headed by Miers, voted to push for a mail-in referendum of all ABA members. “The Texas boards’ action arose from the antagonism, disruption and difficulties that have resulted from the tug-of-war on this issue, said Harriet Miers, president of the state bar group,” the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported Dec. 17, 1992. “Although Miers said the goal of the resolution is to lay the abortion issue to rest no matter what the result, the Texas board has officially supported neutrality since March 1990. She noted that a large majority of the board members are pro-choice.”

Aug. 10, 1993
ABA House of Delegates votes down the Texas request for an ABA membership referendum on whether the ABA should keep its pro-abortion position or be neutral.

1994
Represents George W. Bush in a dispute involving a private fishing camp in East Texas. Hired as lawyer for Bush’s gubernatorial campaign.

Sept. 23, 1994
Contributes $500 to the U.S. House campaign of Republican Pete Sessions, her first known political contribution to a Republican.

Nov. 18, 1994
Named chief counsel to Gov.-elect Bush’s gubernatorial transition team.

May 4, 1995
Appointed by then-Gov. Bush to six-year term as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission.

March 2, 1996
Elected president of the 225-lawyer Locke Purnell Rain Harrell law firm, making her the first female president of a major Texas law firm.

1998
Conducts “opposition research” on Bush for Bush himself during his gubernatorial re-election campaign. “According to campaign spokesman David Beckwith, during his ’98 re-election drive, Bush asked his personal lawyer, Dallas attorney Harriet Miers, to do a survey of public records so his campaign would be ready to answer questions about his background,” Newsweek later reported. “Miers used paralegals from her firm and she remains the repository of the records, says Beckwith.”

March 21, 2000
Resigns from Texas Lottery Commission before the end of her term.

Jan. 5, 2001
Bush designates her staff secretary in the Bush White House, managing all paperwork sent to the President’s desk.

March 22, 2001
White House Counsel Al Gonzales tells the ABA it will no longer be asked to vet potential federal court nominees. “It would be particularly inappropriate, in our view, to grant a preferential, quasi-official role to a group, such as the ABA, that takes public positions on divisive political, legal and social issues that come before the courts,” wrote Gonzales. Harriet Miers, according to Texas Lawyer, opposed ending the ABA’s special role.

June 27, 2003
Bush promotes Miers to White House deputy chief of staff.

Nov. 17, 2004
Bush appoints Miers White House counsel.

Oct. 3, 2005
Bush nominates Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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