(CNSNews.com) - As president of the Texas State Bar, Harriet Miers, whom President Bush Monday nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, proposed a referendum that would have allowed the American Bar Association's (ABA) rank and file members to decide whether the organization should take a position on abortion rights.
Pro-life activists are likely to view this action favorably since Miers made the proposal in 1993 -- one year after the ABA's leadership had already adopted an official pro-abortion rights stance. Miers' proposed referendum would have allowed ABA members to side with their leadership or return the group to its previous neutral stance on abortion.
Miers called her proposal a "positive effort to involve our membership on an issue that has caused the leadership to flip-flop."
After endorsing abortion rights in 1990, the ABA reverted to a neutral stance in 1991. ABA delegates then reversed themselves again at their August 1992 convention in San Francisco, endorsing abortion rights on a 276-168 vote.
But Miers' 1993 referendum never made it to the ABA's 370,000 rank and file members. It was defeated by delegates to the organization's August 1993 convention by a vote of 313 to 128. Miers was no longer president of the Texas State Bar when the vote occurred.
If Mier's proposal had passed, it would have been the first membership-wide vote of the ABA since its founding in 1878, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
It's unclear what motivated Miers to offer the referendum, but she did reportedly point to the resignation of about 5,000 ABA members, following the 1992 vote by the organization's leadership.
"This issue has brought on tremendous divisiveness and loss of membership," Miers reportedly said in 1993. Miers also questioned whether the ABA should "be trying to speak for the entire legal community with respect to this particular issue."
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