"She decided that she wanted faith to be a bigger part of her life," Justice Hecht, who now serves on the Texas Supreme Court, said in an interview. "One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment" to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and be born again, he said. He walked down the hallway from his office to hers, and there amid the legal briefs and court papers, Ms. Miers and Justice Hecht "prayed and talked," he said.
She was baptized not long after that, at the Valley View Christian Church. It was a pivotal personal transformation for the woman now named for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, not entirely unlike that experienced by President Bush and others in the Texas political and business establishment of that time.
Some evangelical Protestants were heralding the possibility that one of their own would have a seat on the court after decades of complaining that their brand of Christianity met condescension and exclusion from the American establishment.
In an interview Tuesday on the televangelist Pat Robertson's "700 Club," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the Christian conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said Ms. Miers would be the first evangelical Protestant on the court since the 1930's. "So this is a big opportunity for those of us who have a conviction, that share an evangelical faith in Christianity, to see someone with our positions put on the court," Mr. Sekulow said.
But other conservatives were unappeased, looking for someone with clearly stated public commitments on social issues like abortion. While Ms. Miers rarely wore her religious thinking on her sleeve, her gradual tilt toward conservative views resulted in some uneasy moments when she took a break from a lucrative law practice and delved into politics with a campaign for the Dallas City Council in 1989, running for a nonpartisan post. She appeared as a candidate at the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, but even though she said gays should have the same civil rights as others in society, she stopped short of endorsing a repeal of a Texas law criminalizing gay sexual activity.
"You might think she's a pushover because she looks meek and humble," said Al Lipscomb, a former city council member. "But can America handle a Republican conservative who's fair? She is a tigress when it comes to the law."
Even though it was known that she was a high-powered lawyer in Dallas, "she never used the church to further her political career," Ms. Wilson said. "She never took a role where she was trying to stand out front," Ms. Wilson [office manager at Valley View Christian Church] said. "She put herself in servant roles, making coffee every Sunday morning and putting doughnuts out."
Scott Furguson picked up on this from the Patrick Ruffini blog. He sees the Miers nomination as a tactical assault on Democratic party unity. Coupled with the still-warm John Roberts move, submitting an in-your-face Christian Evangelical candidate for the Supreme Court is a calculated divide-and-conquer move.
It was pretty obvious that nominating Roberts drove a wedge between moderate Democrats and the left-wing ideologues -- a tactical assault on Democrat unity. Now, Bush is poised to throw a right hook at the "red state" Democrats with the Miers nomination.
Ruffini notes that today's New York Times puts Miers' unapologetic evangelical Christian faith front-and-center -- the faith of one who has converted from Catholicism -- and does it with the kind of condescension that is a hallmark of this northeastern liberal newspaper.
For the Democrat elites who think that they are "above" faith, this throws gasoline on the fire. I would be surprised if Sen. Charles Schumer let the issue of Miers' faith pass, since he apparently believes faith doesn't mix with justice. And he's certainly stupid enough to make this a key issue in his interrogation, which I believe Bush wants him to do.
Regardless of whether or not Miers passes, Bush wins. The Democrats now find themselves in an even tighter box than with the Roberts nomination. Northeast liberal senators will further alienate themselves from mainstream America. "Red state" Democrat senators will be bloodied - voting for Miers puts them out of step with the DNC, voting against Miers alienates them from their constituencies. Evangelical Christians have their day in the sun. And cultural conservatives, who have been spoiling for a fight, will get it.
The only way for Democrats to thread the needle on the Miers nomination is to take faith off the table completely. But Schumer, being a sock-puppet for Ralph Neas, won't let that happen.
This analysis strikes me as spot on. Heads, I win -- tails, you lose.
I am reminded of the first time I saw a professional baseball game in person, watching that little baseball go flying across the field in a long, high arc, professionally caught by a career baseball-player with all the ease of someone reaching up to pick an apple.
I am just as impressed when I see a politician, either Democrat or Republican, execute a move like this one. Southern politicians learned to speak in code long before the concept of "speaking in code" was ever identified. They know it to be a secular variation of speaking in tongues. How else could white Southerners so smoothly shift to the Republican Party after generations of yellow-dog loyalty?