Harriet Miers nominated to the Supreme Court

Published 3:51 pm Monday, October 10, 2005

By By Jo Bonner
On Monday, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the same day John Roberts took his seat as chief justice of the United States. I was so pleased with John Roberts's smooth confirmation process in the Senate, and I am hopeful that the confirmation hearings for Ms. Miers will be equally as dignified.
Although not a household name prior to her nomination, Ms. Miers has a reputation as a strong leader. She currently serves the president as White House counsel, and she was also White House deputy chief of staff. Prior to coming to Washington, she was chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission and president of the State Bar of Texas.
Although Ms. Miers has no prior experience as a judge, this fact alone should not disqualify her from the nation's highest court. In fact, justices with no judicial experience are not new to modern history. The most notable is the late William H. Rehnquist, who served as assistant attorney general in the Nixon administration when he was nominated.
When the president announced his choice to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he said, "In selecting a nominee, I've sought to find an American of grace, judgment and unwavering devotion to the Constitution and laws of our country. Harriet Miers is just such a person. I've known Harriet for more than a decade. I know her heart. I know her character."
Even though she clearly has the confidence of the president, many in the Senate will want to learn more about her character and judicial philosophy.
For their part, we can expect the Senate to request documents from her time in the White House. These documents should be protected by attorney-client privilege because of her role as counsel to the president, which is why the hearings are so critical. It is during this process, however, that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will have an opportunity to ask her views on a variety of issues.
I look forward to watching this process unfold and learning more, myself, about Harriet Miers, a lady President Bush is obviously high on, but she is nevertheless being considered for a lifetime appointment.
Rebuild Bayou La Batre
As we continue to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, it is of utmost importance to closely monitor reconstruction spending in order to reduce, as much as possible, wasteful spending.
There is still no official price tag for the recovery effort at this time, but the projected costs are astounding. I believe this is an opportunity to develop a smart plan for this spending.
I applaud Alabama's Senator Jeff Sessions for coordinating local, state and federal officials in developing an intelligent plan to rebuild Bayou La Batre and provide housing for those residents left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
On Monday, Mayor Stan Wright, State Rep. Spencer Collier and I – among others – met with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss federal laws and programs that can be used to help the recovery effort.
A possible course of action for Bayou La Batre to take is to use federal loans to buy land within the city limits, build homes on the land and sell the homes to Hurricane Katrina victims, which they can purchase using low-interest mortgages.
This would be but one step in the recovery process, but the intent is to be responsible in the use of federal money for the rebuilding of this city.
Threatened &Endangered Species Recovery Act
Last week the House on a 229-193 vote passed legislation that will update the Endangered Species Act of 1973. I, along with every other member of the Alabama delegation, cosponsored this important bill.
The original Endangered Species Act desperately needed to be modernized. This new legislation is a bold step towards identifying those species that are truly endangered and those that are threatened.
One of the most important changes is that property owners would now be compensated when their property is taken, as required by the Fifth Amendment.
This legislation is important to Alabama because a large number of endangered species are located in the state.
It is now up to the Senate to pass their version of the Endangered Species Act, and I am eager for this to become law.
Mayor Jones sworn in
Congratulations to Mayor Sam Jones and the newly-elected council members for the city of Mobile!
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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