[star]The American Mind[star]

October 03, 2005

Unknown Miers Nominated

President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The qualifications of Ms. Miers seems to be she's a friend of G.W., has breasts, and will prevent some of the Democrats from putting up a hard fight. CBS News reports,

Reid had personally recommended that Mr. Bush consider Miers for nomination, according to several sources familiar with the president's consultations with individual senators. The Nevada Democrat had also warned Mr. Bush that the selection of any of several other contenders could trigger a bruising partisan struggle.

I didn't know Sen. Reid was in the majority, but the President acted like it. Anyway, it doesn't sound like Miers' nomination pleased Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA):
The president has selected a loyal political ally without a judicial record to sit on the highest court in the land.

Democrats and the Left were going to gripe about any nominee. So why not put the strongest conservative forward? That's what a majority party does.

What President Bush has failed to do is appoint a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas. That's because Miers is more unknown than new Chief Justice John Roberts. She has no public track record from her years conseling legal clients and President Bush. There are plenty of qualified conservative candidates out there who's views we know. Once again, Bush acts like a weak President who doesn't want to fight Senate Democrats. Betsy Newmark writes, "That is not a position of leadership, but of bowing to pressure." Whether it is fatigue in the Iraq War or the (undeserved) criticism he took from Hurricane Katrina Bush isn't acting like a man who won an election last year and has his party controlling both house of Congress. As a caller on a local Milwaukee talk radio show said, "Conservatives own Washington." Too bad the only Republican who knows that is Rep. Tom DeLay, and he's been indicted.

We have Hugh Hewitt scolding conservative critics:

The Miers nomination is turning into a Rorschach test dividing conservatives into the camp that understands governing for the long term and those that are so emotionally fragile or contingent in their allegiance that anything they (1)don't understand or (2) disappoints in any way becomes an occasion for panic and declarations of irreparable injury.

I also note that the hand-wringers act as though a Republican president is an accident, and that there won't be any more Bush picks, nor any more Republican presidents. Keep up the carping and we might again see the Dems get close to an unbreakable filibuster margin in the Senate.

For a man who loves the collected wisdom of the blogosphere he's quite condescending. Hewitt assumes a Republican President will follow President Bush. With the weak GOP line up that isn't assure. Bush had an opportunity to put a bold conservative stamp on the Supreme Court. With Harriet "Madam X" Miers we just don't know if he did that.

Some very important voices in the conservative movement have shared their dissapointment. First, the editors of National Review:

Being a Bush loyalist and friend is not a qualification for the Supreme Court. She may have been the best pick from within Bushís inner circle. It seems impossible to maintain that she was the best pick from any larger field. It seems highly unlikely that she will be the kind of justice who, in combination with Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, will attract additional votes by the sheer force of her arguments. This nomination was a missed opportunity.

Second, the directors of Redstate.org:

For all we know, and we know very little, Harriet Miers is the second coming of Antonin Scalia. But, we do not know. What we know is encouraging to the extent that she might be right on life issues. She did actively oppose the American Bar Association's position. Assuming that Miers is a conservative jurist, we still cannot, at this time, accept or endorse this nomination.1

Justices of the United States Supreme Court have consistently had notable careers with stints in the state judiciary, federal judiciary, government, or academia. Those picks that originate from government or from academia, usually have stellar careers and brilliant academic resumes, coupled with impressive writings often in academic journals.

From what we know, Harriet Miers is unqualified for the position. She had an impressive career of "firsts" as a female attorney in Texas, but those are not enough.


We can be convinced that Miers is stellar. We can be convinced that Miers will be an originalist willing to reject the liberal dogma of Roe. But from where we sit now, this is a profoundly disappointing nomination, a missed opportunity, and an abdication of responsibility to make sound, well qualified nominations. Whether it is also a betrayal of first principles is still to be determined.

Third, is David Frum who called the Miers nomination an "unforced error":

worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or--and more importantly--that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left. This is a chance that may never occur again: a decisive vacancy on the court, a conservative president, a 55-seat Republican majority, a large bench of brilliant and superbly credentialed conservative jurists ... and what has been done with the opportunity?

I am not saying that Harriet Miers is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things. Not even her closest associates on the job have good reason to believe either of these things. In other words, we are being asked by this president to take this appointment purely on trust, without any independent reason to support it. And that is not a request conservatives can safely grant.

Fourth is Stephen Bainbridge who writes, "Bush is now peeing on the movement."

Harriet Miers could end up being even better than Scalia. My problem with her nomination is, like John Roberts, we know little about her views. We have to resort to second-hand reports from 30-year platonic friends (just scroll down).

"Bush Taps Close Ally For Court" [via ScrappleFace]

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Law at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)