On Harriet Miers

Ken AshfordSupreme CourtLeave a Comment

I really don’t get it.  Did Bush learn nothing from the Mike Brown/FEMA flap?

I’m sure Harriet Miers is a nice person.  But what is it with this administration appointing people to high positions just because they are nice people — people that you would want to have a beer with?  Or, in Ms. Miers case, tea?

This is the highest court in the land.  Her vote could be the swing on many important legal and social issues.  Is she the best qualified?  Is she even the best qualified woman?  Is she even the best qualified conservative woman?

There’s something very disturbing about the way Bush selects people.  I’m sure he "trusts" her, but the problem is . . . most people (especially right now) don’t trust Bush’s decision-making skills!!

Part of me wonders if this isn’t some part of a larger plan:

(1)   Bush nominates a "stealth" justice.  Someone who has almost no paper trial.  And, being a former White House counsel, don’t expect to see too much paper coming from the White House for the Judiciary Committee to mull (thank you, attorney-client privilege). 

(2)  She has no judicial experience.  Not that I, personally, find this to be a problem — Rehnquist, Byron White, and many others had no judicial experience before being appointed to the Supreme Court.  But it doesn’t sit well in the wake of former Arabian horse judge Michael Brown’s embarrassing tenure as FEMA Director.  My problem is that she seems to lack some actual courtroom experience.  I mean, as she even been in the Supreme Court??

(3)  It reaks of cronyism.  She’s a Bushbot from way back.

(4)  The foregoing will cause consternation among Democrats, and not a few Republicans.  She gets rejected.

(5)  "Fine", says Bush.  And then he nominates Priscilla Owens, or some other horrible arch-conservative judicial activist — someone with a clear (ultra-conservative) paper trial, unquestionable experience, and not susceptible to cronyism charges.  And the fight from the Dems will have been spent on defeating Miers.

UPDATEI’m not the only one thinking thisNope.

Anyway, it seems nobody is particularly happy about her for many of the same reasons.   Many on the right are outright upset.  Reactions below the fold.

Michelle Malkin is utterly underwhelmed.  So is Glenn Reynolds.

John Hinderaker at PowerLine calls her a "disappointment."

Captain’s Quarters:  "Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn’t even look like the best female candidate for the job. . . . Miers may make a great stealth candidate, but right now she looks more like a political ploy. Color me disappointed in the first blush."

David Frum at NRO:

I worked with Harriet Miers. She’s a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated … I could pile on the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States. And 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.

I am not saying that she 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 no 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.

Southern Appeal, a conservative law blogger is really ticked:

I am done with President Bush: Harriet Miers? Are you freakin’ kidding me?!

Can someone–anyone–make the case for Justice Miers on the merits? Seriously, this is the best the president could do?

And what really sticks in my craw is the president’s unwillingness to have a national debate about the proper method of interpreting the Constitution. I suppose I should have seen this coming when White House staffers freaked out over Chief Justice Roberts’s ties to the Federalist Society.

Thanks for nothing, Mr. President. You had better pray that Justice Miers is a staunch judicial conservative, because if she turns out to be another O’Connor then the Republican Party is in for a world of hurt.


RedState writes "Let’s hope I’m wrong, but right now I’m not impressed", but adds the promising note (to me, at least) that Miers contributed to the Gore campaign in 1988.

And then there’s this:

Only minutes after Bush appeared at the White House Monday to announce the nomination, Manuel Miranda, a conservative strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a scathing statement: "The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had been the president’s lawyer. The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it."

And last, but probably not least (or last), there is a conservative website called confirmthem.com devoted to the passage of Bush’s judicial court nominees.  Even they have huge problems, as indicated by these selective commentor quotes:

"Miers is a disastrous. . . [B]ush has betrayed us and lied to us in two elections. We ought to abandon this administration, stop giving dollars, stop activism."

"The ‘Read My Lips’ disaster of the Bush 43 presidency.  I supported Bush and waited five years for this? Bush is history."

"You would search far and wide to find someone as fond of President Bush as I am, but this morning I am ready to remove the Bush-Cheney bumper sticker from my car and start tearing up the RNC envelopes I receive once or twice a week. If this is President Bush’s idea of a good Supreme Court justice, then perhaps I was wrong about him all along and his critics were right. "

"Bush’s oppenents are right–he’s as dumb as a post. This is a crony pick–like Gonzales and Mike Brown, and the Joint Chiefs’ niece."

"This pick is stunning. Bush has gone from hero to zero with me in the space of just a few minutes."

"I think we all need to start walking away from the Bush Crony Admin and those in the GOP like Hastert and Delay and their corrupt ways."

"I have been one of Bush’s most ardent supporters, but this tears it. He just doomed the ‘06 and ‘08 elections. I won’t vote Dem, but I’m not voting Repub either."

"Wonderful – she is compassionate. I have been a Bush defender in a family of liberals. I can no longer defend him. I am laying down my sword."

"I just ripped off my bush bumper stickers (And I bravely sported them in the marginal suburbs of Philadelpia for years!)."