| Wednesday, October 05, 2005
| The diary of Nathan Hecht
|Harriet Miers meets with key conservative Senators today, to try and shore up support with what Bush calls "the opinions that count..." Meanwhile, on the front pages, the subject of her religious fatih (she switched from Catholicism to evangelical Prtestantism in her mid-30s) is being ing rolled out, mostly in the person of old friend/former junior law partner/possible ex-paramour? Nathan Hecht, who supposedly witnessed her "come to Jesus" moment. Hecht now is carrying much of the responsiblity (along with Jay Sekulow and Miers' former Dallas pastor), of shoring up Ms. Miers' conservative bona fides prior to the confirmation hearings.
Bad news for the Bushies: once you've lost Laura Ingram, you might have lost the movement...
Good news for the Bushies: Miers' church is anti-abortion rights and anti gay-marriage (back to the bad news, that doesn't mean she agrees with them...)
The New York Times reports that in terms of overt evangelical politics, Miers in Texas wasn't a standout, and "wasn't furniture..." and along with a detailed description of her religious conversion, plays the Hecht card heavily:
A close relationship with Justice Hecht - also a longtime member of Valley View - who frequently appears with Ms. Miers at social functions in Washington and in Texas, has been a steady feature of her life for nearly 30 years. Justice Hecht is known as one of the most conservative members of the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court.All rather vague, of course, and probably not satisfying to the FReepers...
Newspapers in Texas have reported that Justice Hecht and Ms. Miers were romantically involved, and when asked in an interview whether that was still the case, Justice Hecht responded that they were close, without going into great detail. "She works in Washington, I work in Austin," Justice Hecht said. "We have dinner when she's here; if she invites me to Washington I happily go. We talk on the phone all the time."
Justice Hecht and Ms. Miers spoke on Sunday evening, but she did not tell him about the pending announcement that she had been offered the nomination, he said. "She's a stickler for the rules," he said. He never asked Ms. Miers how she would vote on the issue of abortion if it came before the Supreme Court, he said. "She probably wouldn't answer, she wouldn't view it as appropriate."
"Yes, she goes to a pro-life church," Justice Hecht said, adding, "I know Harriet is, too." The two attended "two or three" anti-abortion fund-raising dinners in the early 1990's, he said, but added that she had not otherwise been active in the anti-abortion movement. "You can be just as pro-life as the day is long and can decide the Constitution requires Roe" to be upheld, he said.
WaPo is rather more bold in dispelling any lesbian rumors that could surround Ms. Miers, calling Hecht her "on-again, off-again boyfriend" right in the first paragraph. They also frame her views on abortion much more categorically:
"I know she is pro-life," said Hecht, one of the most conservative judges in Texas. "She thinks that after conception, it's not a balancing act -- or if it is, it's a balancing of two equal lives."Are we getting someplace, right wingers? Maybe, maybe not:
Hecht and other confidants of Miers all pledge that if the Senate confirms her nomination to the Supreme Court, her judicial values will be guided by the law and the Constitution. But they say her personal values have been shaped by her abiding faith in Jesus, and by her membership in the massive red-brick Valley View Christian Church, where she was baptized as an adult, served on the missions committee and taught religious classes. At Valley View, pastors preach that abortion is murder, that the Bible is the literal word of God and that homosexuality is a sin -- although they also preach that God loves everybody.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment on Hecht's recollection yesterday but said President Bush did not ask Miers her personal views on abortion or any other issue that may come before the court. "A nominee who shares the president's approach of judicial restraint would not allow personal views to affect his or her rulings based on the law," Perino said.
Even in Dallas, home of groups such as the Texas Eagle Forum and the Republican National Coalition for Life, some religious conservatives say Miers, 60, has demonstrated an insufficient commitment to family values. They cited a questionnaire she filled out for a gay rights group in 1989 as a candidate for Dallas City Council, indicating that gay people should have the same civil rights as straight people and that the city should fund AIDS education and services. After her election, she appointed an openly gay lawyer to an influential city board.Now, what was that void again...?
"For goodness' sake, why elevate AIDS over cancer? She shouldn't have filled out that questionnaire at all," said Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum. "President Bush is asking us to have faith in things unseen. We only have that kind of faith in God."
But on the same questionnaire, Miers opposed the repeal of a Texas anti-sodomy law and said she was not seeking the endorsement of the gay rights group. In a meeting with the group, she said that her "personal conviction is not consistent" with the "homosexual lifestyle," according to one activist's notes.
Hecht suggested that it would be difficult to attend Valley View regularly and support gay rights. At the same time, he said, Miers's faith made her more sympathetic to the struggles of others, and her duties as an at-large City Council member transcended her personal views.
"She represented those people, and she wanted to represent the whole city," Hecht said. "It doesn't mean that you approve of their lifestyle."
Take 3: the Washington Times focuses on Pastor Ron Key, the man Miers reportedly will follow to his new, more mission-centered church. It also rather strategically compares her religious conversion to that of President Bush:
While the rest of the country debates the merits of Miss Miers' judicial qualifications, her Christian friends and confidants says she is a solid believer who, like President Bush, had a religious conversion in her 30s....Which again says absolutely nothing. Ms. Miers' conversion came in 1979, and NYT says that after that, she began leaning Republican. But those tricky donations to the Gore campaign came years later, in 1988 ... Clearly this was not Dubya giving up the sauce cold-turkey. And what would Ms. Miers consider to be a "good reason" to have an abortion? Inquiring minds on both sides of the abortion debate want to know...
This was in June 1979. Within a few days of her decision, she was baptized at Valley View Christian Church, a conservative Protestant congregation in north Dallas with 1,200 members. The church is not affiliated with the similarly named Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a liberal mainline denomination.
"The whole basis for becoming a Christian is that you've made mistakes," said Mr. Key, who was pastor of the church at the time. "Obviously, at that time in her life, she became aware of the fact that she needed Jesus, and she committed her life to Him."
Like George W. Bush, who at 39 made a similar life-changing decision in the summer of 1985 during an encounter with the Rev. Billy Graham, Miss Miers was looking for a spiritual change. She was 33.
Nathan Hecht, then a fellow lawyer at the Dallas law firm of Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely and now an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, played the piano at Valley View. They began to go out together, and one day he invited her to church.
"She had made partner, had a great practice, lots of clients, making a good living, the works," Justice Hecht said. "She got to thinking about her life: 'Is this all there is?' She decided she wanted a stronger faith."
The two "argued about it some," he recalls, and one day, she "came down the hallway to say she had made a decision. She had made a personal commitment [to Christ]."
Not only did this affect her financially -- "If you see her tax returns, you'll see she gives 15 percent to the church," Justice Hecht said -- but it also transformed her views on issues such as abortion.
"After her conversion, she thought more about things in a serious way. She realized life begins at conception. Taking a life after conception was serious business, and therefore you could not do it without a good reason," the judge said.
Tags: Harriet Miers, Supreme Court, Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, Bush
|posted by JReid @ 1:59 PM