In general, Iíve found the information and editorial commentary regarding Harriet Miers contradictory and difficult to interpret. While Miers clearly represented herself as a pro-life candidate during a 1989 campaign that let to her election to the Dallas City Council, the Washington Post today reports that she espoused a position which appears to be consistent with that of abortion advocates:
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, "government should not act."
In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," she said. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."
Carefully selected phrases without the surrounding context are often misleading and I havenít read Miersí entire speech. Yet, Matt Staver, Liberty Counsel president, told the Post, "This concept of self-determination could clearly be read in support for things like abortion or same-sex marriage, and it's a philosophy that cuts a judge loose from the Constitution."
On the other hand, former National Abortion Rights Action League president Kate Michelman said, "If you take what she said at face value, you would conclude that she recognizes the right of a woman to choose an abortion as a matter of self-determination."
Kyleen Wright, president of the Texans for Life Coalition, called Miers's principle of self-determination "troubling" and was concerned about Miers's choice of words in characterizing the abortion debate. "In the pro-life movement, we don't recognize a right to decide who lives or dies," Wright told the Post.
Miers' statements are (very) disturbing Ė if accurately represented. The WAPO story is likely to get considerable attention and be exploited to its full potential by those opposing the Miers' nomination. Iíd like to read the entire speech in its context before jumping to a conclusion although this seems to explain why Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) has been cautious in accepting Miers as a pro-life nominee.
- Cries in the Night - Hmm... sounds like someone thinks its only a woman's decision.
Info-Theory - Miers has been revealed as a pro-Roe judicial activist.
Excessive Catholicism - There is now officially no reason to support Harriet Miers' confirmation.
A Certain Slant of Light - I'd particularly like to know how a preborn effects self-determination when his or her mother is being wheeled into an abortion clinic.
Robert Going - These are not the words of an "originalist"...