October 03, 2005
Harriet Miers

I'm not much for following the Supreme Court nomination battles - there are plenty of other bloggers who do a far better job of it than I would - but I do have a couple of thoughts now that we know that Harriet Miers has been tapped to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

1. Is it OK if we ask this nominee some questions about what she thinks about past rulings and how they might affect her judicial philosophy in the future? I mean, given that she has no track record at all from which to judge for ourselves, maybe just this one time?

2. Is she really the best person available for this job? I don't want to complain too much here, since we could have gotten an obvious ideologue like Edith Jones instead, but when someone like Tom Kirkendall is scratching his head, I have to wonder. I'll reserve judgment until the confirmation hearings, again assuming that she actually answers a few questions.

3. I agree with Greg:

I've got to wonder if the Rove/Bush machine have truly lost their last remaining connection to the political radar that has, up till Katrina, served them fairly well.

I mean, when you're being dogged for cronyism, is it really smart to name someone who's only qualification for the office is her personal relationship with the President?

Have I mentioned that maybe if she answers a few questions we could put these doubts to rest? Yes, I think I have.

That's about it. My hope for this nominee is the same as it was for John Roberts; namely, that we'll get someone more in the Anthony Kennedy mold than Antonin Scalia. I really don't think there's much more we reasonably can hope for than that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 03, 2005 to National news | TrackBack

I don't want to pre-judge Miers, because I know so little about her and her views...and I suspect that was a conscious decision by the administration.

Having said that, more blatant cronyism in a high-level, high-profile position this soon after the "Brownie" fiasco? The mind boggles.

Posted by: Tim on October 3, 2005 12:24 PM

Harriet Miers is a consummate politician. She is well-known to lawyers in Dallas and across the state of Texas because of her ability and willingness to see and be seen . . . but she is a politician. She has never been a trial judge nor an appellate justice. She has never listened to heartbreaking testimony and then had to make a decision about someone's life, liberty or property. She has no judicial track record from which to extrapolate how she will perform as a Supreme Court Justice. So, she is not the best candidate for the job . . . she's not even close. In my opinion, President Bush shows a disrespect for the Court, for the hundreds of qualified appellate justices who were passed over, and for the legal profession in general when he sends a non-judge to the highest court in the land . . . simply because she was his personal attorney. With G.W. Bush, it really is who you know, not what you know.

Posted by: Albert Hollan on October 3, 2005 1:31 PM

Check out Rude Pundit's take on this - read the last
paragraph where he gets to the real point (after some really funny stuff on the way as usual!). I think he is right in his assessment of the situation.

The Supreme Court may very well be making some rulings that figure into a Bush impeachment in the near future - he wants to make sure that his good friends are on board.

Posted by: Elizabeth on October 3, 2005 1:33 PM

I hate to sound stupid here, but shouldn't a SCJ have had some experience say...as a judge?

Posted by: blurker gone bad on October 3, 2005 3:40 PM

I hate to sound stupid here, but shouldn't a SCJ have had some experience say...as a judge?

You would think, but there's plenty of precedent for this. Rehnquist wasn't a judge, and whether you agreed with most of his opinions or not, he was certainly a more than adequate jurist. Earl Warren wasn't ever a judge, either, and his court issued some of the decisions most cherished by liberals of all time.

Nevertheless, I'm not critical of the nomination because she's not a judge, but I'm inclined to be critical because it's yet more cronyism from Team Bush. That's really not fair to her, not knowing much about her background or her beliefs, but I still think Yet Another Bush Crony getting the spoils makes it hard to pass the smell test.

Posted by: Tim on October 3, 2005 5:29 PM

Is she really the best person available for this job?

You're not really under the illusion that there's a single "best person" for any given Supreme Court nomination, are you?

I know she hasn't impressed the law professor blogging set (since she took a different path than they did) nor the Ivy League Conservative Keyboard set (David Frum), but I think there should be room on the Court for a working lawyer who was a female trailblazer in Texas (managing partner of a large firm AND president of the bar) and who also brings executive branch experience to the Court. I'm not speaking of her judicial philosophy here, just of her experience. Beldar has written plenty about her experience and the intellectual snobs who have tried to discredit it, so I'd suggest at least considering his perspective if you're at all inclined to that view.

Frankly, I'd be much more worried about a court composed entirely of intellectual elites like Glenn Reynolds or the Volokhs. :)

Posted by: kevin whited on October 6, 2005 7:39 AM

Don't forget Trent Lott, George Will, and Ann Coulter, too, Kevin.

To answer your question, no, I don't think there's just one "most qualified" person. I do, however, think there's a Top N list that most people across the spectrum would more or less agree have unquestionable credentials. Given the broad range of people, including many on your side of the aisle, who are questioning Miers' qualifications, I can only conclude that she wouldn't make any Top N list for any reasonable value of N. And so I ask my question.

I will say this, at the risk of repeating myself: Ms. Miers can put my doubts and those of many others to rest if she'll just be forthright in answering questions during her confirmation hearing. Just say "no" to stealth nominees.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on October 6, 2005 1:36 PM