October 3, 2005

Miers and abortion.

The Washington Post reports:
As president of the Texas State Bar in 1993, Harriet Miers urged the national American Bar Association to put the abortion issue to a referendum of the group's full membership. She questioned at the time whether the ABA should "be trying to speak for the entire legal community" on an issue that she said "has brought on tremendous divisiveness" within the ABA....

Miers was among a group of lawyers from the Texas bar and elsewhere who had argued that the ABA should have a neutral stance on abortion.

The ABA's policy-making body overwhelmingly rejected the Texas lawyers' group's 1993 proposal to put the issue to a referendum by mail of the ABA's then-roster of about 360,000 members.

What does this mean about whether Miers would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Almost nothing. It doesn't even tell us whether she's opposed to abortion rights. She took part in an effort to move the ABA out of endorsing a position that many of its members strongly opposed. At most, it tells us that she had some sensitivity for the concerns of ABA members who were pro-life, though not necessarily that much, since she only sought a majority vote in the referendum. A stronger position would be that the ABA shouldn't take a position contrary to the deep moral beliefs of a significant portion of their members. Her position seems to have been moderate, concerned about the functioning of the ABA as an institution and considerate about diverse opinions within the group.

12 comments:

reader_iam said...

Interesting that I read this post right after reading a piece on TCS titled "Feelers vs. Thinkers." Much of the reaction regarding Miers' and the abortion/ABA issue seems to me to be stemming from visceral reaction (leading to assumptions that can't yet be proved, either way) rather than a more dispassionate assessment, such as yours.

Just another cyber-convergence ... you read one thing, then another, seemingly unrelated, and yet somehow they seem to connect. Interesting, this new medium and how it reflects the brain patterns.

madcat said...

Maybe so, but here's another fun snippet. On a Christian news blog, an interview with Texas Sup Ct Justice Nathan Hecht has Hecht fessing up to dating Miers in the past, the two of them being very close and attending an evangelical church together. Asked specifically about where Miers stands on abortion, he said "her personal views are consistent with that of Evangelical Christians . . . You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a conservative church."
- as posted at http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/archives/018816.html

reader_iam said...

Sorry! I know you don't like references without links. I didn't think to do it at first because its technically not on point. But then, maybe my comment isn't either ... since I was basically just commenting on how your thought processes seemed to be working (well, as always ... and as primarily a thinker, imho, at least in terms of this sort of thing).

http://www.techcentralstation.com/100305C.html

madcat said...

(that would be .html at the end of the url addy, of course)

Sloanasaurus said...

Mabye the secret to this whole matter is the fact that Bush has known Miers (known him well she is now his lawyer) for 10+ years. What other Supreme Court Justice had such a relationship with the President? Any of the current justices? Any former justice in the last 50 years?

Perhaps Bush is learning from the SOuter debacle (don't trust anyone you don't know personally). Perhaps Bush is setting a precedent that will be followed more often in the future.

Bruce Hayden said...

A couple of points.

First, that was one of the reasons that I gave up my ABA membership. I consider myself fairly moderate on the subject of abortion, but did not believe that the ABA should be taking one side here. The view espoused by the group was clearly not the view of most attorneys, nor, probably even of most ABA members.

Secondly, Byron White was appointed to the Supreme Ct. based on his close relationship with President Kennedy. Apparently, during his 1960 campaign, Kennedy met White here in Colo., where White was a chair of Kennedy's election committee and the two of them hit it off at once - in particular, since White was a standout football player (playing pro for the Steelers and the Lions). He then served as Asst. AG under Kennedy's brother, before being appointed to the Supreme Court (never having served as a judge before that time).

A former law partner of my father remembered that visit - and that he had the future president (and White) sitting on his porch (he was the Dem. county chairman at the time).

elcurado said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
elcurado said...

Please. Any busy lawyer who would bother to take this issue on within the ABA plainly has an anti-choice agenda. This whole supreme court nominee thang is not as much of a guessing game as some people make it out to be. This information tells us more than "[a]lmost nothing" about how she would vote on Roe.

Ann Althouse said...

Elcurado: She was the President of the Texas Bar Association, where she needed to do general professional interest things, so categorizing her as simply a "busy lawyer" does not make sense.

elcurado said...

AA: I hear ya. Just sayin' that given the hot-button-ness of the abortion issue, she had to realize what kind of mark she'd be making by spending time and political capital on this particular battle in the ABA, with so many worthy battles out there.

Ann Althouse said...

I remember it as being a very central bar association controversy of the time. I think even some pro-abortion rights lawyers thought the ABA's position was wrong.

ShadyCharacter said...

elcurado writes:

"Any busy lawyer who would bother to take this issue on within the ABA plainly has an anti-choice agenda."

And we all know the only the "anti-life agenda" has any place in a professional association's platform!

As a fairly young lawyer, this issue is the major reason I never joined the ABA in the first place.