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10 October 2005

Mired in Miers

In the comments, Stephanie asked why it’s necessary for Harriet Miers, George Bush’s latest nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to have experience. It’s a fair question and I’d like to take a stab at it.

First, it’s not that Miers doesn’t have any experience. Miers is currently the White House Counsel and was Bush’s personal lawyer. Prior to her service under Bush, she was in private practice for 27 years, mostly handling big business cases, particularly for Microsoft and Disney. However, she has never been a judge and has never argued a case before the Supreme Court. Being a lawyer and being a judge are two very different things, all the moreso when you may become one of the nine most important judges in the country.

Bush’s supposed rational is apparently that someone with this limited experience would bring a new perspective to the Court. That doesn’t make much sense. As conservative columnist George Will pointed out "there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks." There are probably dozens of potential nominees more qualified for this position than Miers.

This seems to be a case of nepotism. Bush, as he frequently does, is rewarding personal loyalty, not competence. Notes the always-insightful Zalm:
In other administration appointments, President Bush has demonstrated time and time again just how highly he values personal loyalty, sometimes to the exclusion of other qualifications or lack thereof. But loyalty to any president is irrelevant to the tasks of the Supreme Court. In fact, too much loyalty to a particular administration should be a mark against a nominee.

In the next decade, the Court could very well be hearing cases regarding executive powers, civil liberties and prisoner treatment in the fight against terrorism, election law, government transparency and so on. For the next three years, the Bush administration will be presenting arguments in many of these cases. It seems inappropriate to me that one of the people rendering judgment on administration policies and powers would be someone who has been central in crafting the legal rationale for those policies and who, at least early on, saw every paper that crossed the President’s desk.
Miers also has some rather intriguing and complicated ties to Bush’s National Guard scandal, which may partially explain why she's up for this nomination.

So I dunno. On the one hand, Miers appears like she will be quite a moderate if she makes it to the Court. She seems to favor gay rights. There’s also been talk from one of her close friends that she might uphold Roe v. Wade if the Supreme Court were to reexamine the case (which should be a lesson to the evangelical community; never trust a seasoned liar). She also donated $1,000 to Al Gore in the late 80s, $1,000 to Hillary Clinton in 2000 (kind of sort of), and held a series of pro-feminism lectures. All of which explains why conservatives are fuming about this. Bush’s evangelical base got played in the last election and they’re finally starting to realise it. And while that makes me happy in a smug sort of way, I don’t know that I can approve of blatant nepotism, especially if it’s to reward Miers for covering Bush's ass.

Comments on "Mired in Miers"

 

Blogger Dan Trabue said ... (10/10/2005 08:03:00 PM) : 

Ya know, the cynic in me notes that the Republican party survives and gets elected precisely because of the abortion issue.

Were we to resolve it to the Right's satisfaction (criminalize abortion), there'd be less incentive to vote Republican and they'd be out on the streets.

So, the cynic in me thinks maybe you're right about this and Miers wouldn't contribute to ending abortion. But that's just the cynic in me.

 

Anonymous Steph said ... (10/10/2005 10:49:00 PM) : 

Thanks for addressing it. I am still curious about the issue. I have to say K-Daddy-Funk, that I think Georgy Porgy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. I don't know what I think, I just want to learn and get more educated. I am concerned about the issues you raise about George basing the decision on loyalty. It seems that this is probley consistent for most presidents though right? I don't know, I'm guessing here as I know next to nothing about the Presidency as a whole.
Also, about what you said about lawyer and judge being so different, I suppose I agree. I'm sure the jobs are quite different but I would venture to guess that both roles require significant knowledge of the law, and that maybe it's just the presentation of that knowledge and the motivations that are different. (forgive me, i'm just trying to stay in the conversation all together, i don't know anything about these topics:))
But I do know that this role of SCJustice is like no other role, and even an experienced judge would be in danger of lacking qualification for fulfilling the great chair.
As for Miers, I think she wears too much eye liner.

 

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