October 17, 2005 12:00 PM

On a typical day, Harriet Miers arrives at the White House by 4:30 a.m. and doesn’t leave until after 10 p.m. “She’s married to the President,” jokes one friend. A fellow Texan who has served as Bush’s chief in-house White House counsel since February, Miers is the only female staffer to have cleared brush at the President’s ranch and the only female member of his 100 Degree Club, the select few who jog with Bush for three miles in 100°-plus heat.

Membership has its privileges. On Oct. 3—the same day John Roberts was sworn in as the new Chief Justice—Bush tapped Miers to fill the seat being vacated by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The choice caught some by surprise: Miers, 60, a former Dallas city council member and the first woman to serve as president of the Texas Bar Association, has neither been a judge nor publicly voiced her opinions on hot-button issues like abortion and the death penalty. “She’s very, very quiet about her personal opinions,” says Beverly Black, a friend since the two attended Southern Methodist University. Texas supreme court justice Nathan Hecht, who has dated the never-married Miers, adds, “She’s gracious, unfailingly kind, a very thoughtful person”—qualities that will come in handy when the probably contentious Senate confirmation hearings begin in a few weeks.

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