Harriet Miers Has Powerful but Low Profile White House Correspondent Don Gonyea joins Nina Totenberg and Renee Montagne to discuss the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. Gonyea says Miers is very close to the president and is one of "the most powerful least known people in the White House."

Harriet Miers Has Powerful but Low Profile

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As we have been reporting this morning, President Bush has made his selection to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The nominee is a longtime friend of the president and his White House counsel, Harriett Miers. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO reporting:

Harriett Miers is used to breaking new ground for women in the law. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Southern Methodist University before becoming the first women ever to be named partner at a major Dallas law firm. Miers was also the first women ever to become president of the Dallas Bar Association. She spent 30 years working in Texas, both in private practice and in state government as head of the Texas Lottery Commission. For the last four years, she's worked at the White House for President Bush, most recently as his top lawyer. She's one of the few recent high court nominees never to have served as a judge before. President Bush said that does not worry him.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I've come to agree with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote about the importance of having judges who are drawn from a wide diversity of professional backgrounds. Justice Rehnquist himself came to the Supreme Court without prior experience on the bench, as did more than 35 other men, including Byron White. And I'm proud to nominate an outstanding woman who brings a similar record of achievement in private practice and public service.

SHAPIRO: When President Bush was governor of Texas, he once described Miers as `a pit bull in size six shoes.' Others have frequently described her as shy. This morning she said she was grateful and humbled. She made an early appeal to the men and women of the Senate who now have the future of her career in their hands.

Ms. HARRIETT MIERS (Supreme Court Justice Nominee): As White House counsel, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the members of the Congress, and that experience has given me an even greater appreciation for the role of the legislative branch in our constitutional system. And now I look forward to the next step in the process that has begun this morning.

SHAPIRO: Republicans reacted with confidence in the president's nominee. Democrats say they will need to learn much more about her before taking a position on her confirmation. They say the stakes are higher than they were for the last nominee because Miers is replacing a swing voter on the court, and she seems to have a short paper trail. Ari Shapiro, NPR News. Washington.

MONTAGNE: Recapping our main story today, President Bush has named White House counsel Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Harriett Miers would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her retirement in July. The announcement came on the first day of the court's new term with a new chief justice at the helm. John Roberts was the president's first Supreme Court nominee. He was formally installed as chief justice this morning. You can read a profile of Harriett Miers and see a round-up of reaction to her Supreme Court nomination at npr.org.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. With Steve Inskeep in New Orleans, I'm Renee Montagne in Washington.

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