Monday, October 03, 2005


Criticism and praise of the choice of Harriet Miers is too early


Now that President Bush has nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court as a replacement for Justice O'Connor, conservatives are scrambling to figure out what kind of justice she would be (and liberals are trying to figure it out as well but they will mostly vote against her anyway). The reaction of conservatives has ranged from downright horror to guarded optimism.

The problem for conservatives was that after falling in love with Chief Justice Roberts they wanted to see President Bush hit another home run. Many names were bandied about and a diverse group of potential nominees were considered. Most of those names were known quantities, conservatives knew what they would be getting if Bush chose one of the popular "candidates".

Harriet Miers is not a known quantity. Most people don't know her. The lack of innate knowledge of her career and, more importantly, judicial philosophy have conservatives justifiably worried. They wonder if she'll be another O'Connor or worse, a Souter?

There is nothing about her nomination that is a prima facie case that she is unqualified. Criticism may eventually be warranted but it is too early to criticize President Bush for nominating Harriet Miers. He did a wonderful job of selecting Chief Justice Roberts, he's named many popular conservative jurists to the federal bench. Miers did contribute money to Al Gore but we should remember that Gore was once a pro-life member of Congress. She may have once been a Democrat but many former "Dixiecrats" are now Republicans.

The fact that Miers is not a conservative "all-star" means that questions concerning her judicial abilities must be raised and answered. She might have an impressive record as a corporate attorney but what of her views on constitutional issues? How did her work as a Dallas attorney prepare her for the difficult questions and issues that face Supreme Court justices? What is it about her record that can assuage apprehensive Bush supporters? Why did President Bush choose her over many other potential picks who are already well-known and admired in conservative circles? Harriet Miers, who are you?

As the public vetting and hearing process gets underway, we will learn a great deal about Harriet Miers. Perhaps she is not conservative enough for Bush supporters. Maybe she doesn't have the requisite experience and credentials to be a Supreme Court justice. The facts will come out but now is too early to draw conclusions.


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