Conservatives quarrels over Miers nomination

The nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court drew unplesant comments Sunday from conservatives who leveled their ire at other conservatives.

The remarks spotlighted a rift in the Republican Party between those who support President Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and those who do not.

At the heart of the matter was whether enough was known about Miers' positions to satisfy conservatives who want to see a seismic shift in what they perceive as a liberal Supreme Court.

Despite the court's perceived leanings, seven of the current nine justices, including O'Connor, were appointed by Republican presidents.

Bush announced his nomination of Miers on Monday, just minutes before his first pick for the court, John Roberts, took over as chief justice.

Bush since then has defended the 60-year-old Miers, who came to Washington with him from Texas in 2001 and has been White House counsel since February, against Democratic charges of cronyism and questions about her degree of conservatism, reports CNN.

In 1998, Ms. Miers represented Disney Enterprises in a dispute with Esprit Finance, which had entered into a contract to promote a Disney concert tour in Mexico. The financing fell through, and Esprit sued Disney in Texas state court; Disney lost and appealed, arguing that Texas did not have jurisdiction over Disney. The appeals court agreed.

One of Ms. Miers's most significant cases, according to lawyers who have worked with her, was the Microsoft case, Microsoft v. Manning. The company appealed the decision of a federal trial court to certify a class of purchasers, who argued that Microsoft's MS-DOS 6.0 software was defective, said Jerry Clements, a partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp who worked on the case with Ms. Miers. The appeals court upheld the class certification, but the trial judge reversed her own decision, Ms. Clements said.

"That was the beginning of a series of cases in Texas that really started shifting the state into a position of not being so much of a plaintiff's haven for class actions," Ms. Clements said.

In 1998, Ms. Miers was hired by SunGard, a technology company based in Wayne, Pa. According to court documents, Southwest Securities sued after SunGard began negotiating a business opportunity with two employees of a company that Southwest later merged with. Southwest contended that the talks violated the terms of an agreement between the predecessor company and SunGard. The case was eventually settled.

"It was a pretty standard case, in terms of just run-of-the-mill commercial litigation," said Joe B. Harrison, a lawyer at Gardere Wynne in Dallas, which represented Southwest Securities. "There wasn't anything unique about the facts or the law that I recall," informs the New York Times.


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