Oct. 27, 2005 -- Harriet Ellan Miers, who had been President Bush's nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor before withdrawing from consideration today, is a longtime Bush confidante whom he once called a "pit bull in size 6 shoes."
Miers was Bush's personal lawyer in Texas and took on the tough job of cleaning up the Texas Lottery when he was governor. She followed him to Washington, first serving as White House staff secretary and then deputy chief of staff before being named to replace Alberto Gonzales, who was named U.S. attorney general, as counsel to the president.
Born and raised in Dallas, Miers, 60, earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. In addition to her legal career, she served one term on the Dallas City Council.
Trailblazer for Women in Legal Profession
The White House and Miers' supporters praise her as a trailblazer and a pioneer in the legal field. The first woman hired by the Dallas law firm Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely, she also was the first female president of the Dallas Bar Association and the first female president of the Texas Bar Association.
Miers met Bush in the 1980s, according to published reports, and was counsel for his 1994 campaign for governor. He appointed her chair of the Texas Lottery Commission in 1995. Miers then was president of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell and co-managing partner of Locke Liddell & Sapp before she joined the White House in 2001.
In addition, Miers was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Lawyers by the National Law Journal in 1998, and received numerous other awards from groups including the Dallas Women Lawyers Association, the Anti-Defamation League and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.
A senior White House official told ABC News that Bush first considered Miers for O'Connor's spot on the U.S. Supreme Court after nominating John Roberts for chief justice.
In announcing Miers' nomination, Bush noted that her inspiration is her 91-year-old mother, who is said to be ill and living in a nursing home.
Texas State Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who has known Miers for 31 years and once dated her, said after her nomination, "I think she will be a great justice. She will work very hard. … Harriet's a very fair-minded person. She's very deliberate, she's very slow to judgment."
Less of a Paper Trail Than the New Chief Justice
Miers, who has never been married and does not have children, is known for putting in long hours. Miers has less of a paper trail than Chief Justice John Roberts, who was easily confirmed by the Senate recently. She has never been a judge and has not given many speeches that reveal her own emotions or ideology.
However, she has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Bush administration on a broad number of initiatives, including tax cuts, Social Security reforms, restrictions on federal spending on embryonic stem-cell research, national security, education reforms and fighting terrorism.
While active in the American Bar Association in late 1990s, she was a leader of an unsuccessful movement to get the organization to rescind its pro-choice positions and support for taxpayer-funded abortion for poor women.
Upon her nomination earlier this month, some Democrats said they wanted to know more about Miers' views and suggested her confirmation process would not be as easy as Roberts'. Soon, even conservative groups began to oppose Miers' nomination, intensifying the political pressure on Miers and the Bush administration.
"I am concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country," Miers wrote in her withdrawal letter to the president.
In a statement on Miers' withdrawal, Bush said he "reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw," and agreed with her objection that she would be pressed by senators to reveal details about her confidential work within the executive branch.
"I understand and share her concern … about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process," Bush said. "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."