Monday, October 03, 2005

PRES. BUSH TODAY NOMINATED Harriet Miers to fill the open spot on the Supreme Court left by Sandra Day O'Connor. And surprise! She has very little top appellate experience, has never served as a judge, and is known mostly for her loyalty to Pres. Bush and for having been his personal attorney.

Why does this still have the power to shock me? I don't know, but it does. I guess it's hard for me to believe that anyone could be this resistant to learning from past experience.

How can a President of the United States have so little understanding of and respect for his own credibility, not to mention the importance of the Supreme Court, that he would nominate someone whose sole qualification is having been his personal attorney, and his personal friend, closer to him even than Alberto Gonzales!

Ms. Miers has held senior positions in various bar organisations in Texas, and in the American Bar Association, and worked for many years as a corporate lawyer, including becoming the first female president of a big Texas law firm, and the first woman president of the State Bar of Texas. But she has never been a judge; nor does she have a distinguished career of appellate practice.

"There have certainly been great justices who were never judges," points out Mark Levy, a Supreme Court expert at the law firm Kilpatrick Stockton, noting that neither the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist nor the widely admired Justice Robert Jackson served as a judge before being elevated to the bench.

"But you've got to wonder: what is it about her, apart from that lightning struck and her path crossed with George Bush's 10 years ago, that led to her nomination to the court today?"

How can a corporate lawyer with no experience as a judge and almost none handling appeals cases possibly be qualified to serve on the Supreme Court? Whatever happened to paying your dues? It's so insulting to the American people that Bush would give us someone who has no experience with judicial review to be a Supreme Court justice.

Even conservatives are scratching their heads.

Quietly, some conservatives involved in the White House's nominee selection consultation process said they are concerned with Bush's pick.

"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," said conservative activist Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Conference, referring to President Lyndon B. Johnson's pick to the high court in 1965.

"The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it. However, the president deserves the benefit of a doubt, the nominee deserves the benefit of hearings, and every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote."

Other SCOTUS justices have been confirmed to the bench with no judicial experience, but they were clearly qualified in other ways.

According to the White House, 10 of the 34 Justices appointed since 1933, including former Chief Justice Rehnquist and the late Justice Byron White, were appointed from positions within the president's administration.

However, Jonathan Turley, a NBC legal analyst and law professor at George Washington University, notes that Miers' resume is not as impressive as some of her predecessors nominated from non-judiciary positions.

"There have been people who have gone to the court who have not been judges. The difference is that William Rehnquist (the last such justice to be nominated without having been a judge) had served in various high-level positions within the administration," Turley said. "Someone like Abe Fortus, who was the personal attorney to President Johnson had handled an election dispute for Johnson, was one of the most renowned lawyers of his age and had taught at Yale Law School.

"When you look at people like that - even thought they hadn't been on the bench - they were without question on everyone's top list. They were highly qualified," Turley said. "You don't want to be cruel, but these are frank times. We have to be frank over whether this is the person who should be on the court. No one that I know of would have put Harriet Miers on any list for the Court. She just doesn't have the resume to justify such a decision. Being on the Texas Lottery Commission or the Dallas City Council are not the things you look to for a Supreme Court Justice nominee."

Harry Reid gets the award for the Most Stupid Comment about Miers.

"I like Harriet Miers," said Reid, who had voted against John Roberts as chief justice in Roberts' confirmation vote last week, in a statement. "In my view, the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer."

Later when meeting with Miers at the Capitol, Reid noted that 39 other people have been appointed to the Supreme Court without having experience as a judge. He praised her experience as a trial lawyer, an occupation he shares with her.

"So anyone with that background makes me feel good -- someone who has been [in] a courtroom, tried cases, answered interrogatories, done all those things that lawyers need to do," Reid said.

First of all, attorneys do not answer interrogatories. They write them. Second, a paralegal can write interrogatories. A good legal secretary can write interrogatories. And if all Reid is looking for in a Supreme Court justice is someone who has "been in a courtroom" and "tried cases," he would be satisfied with an associate two or three years out of law school.

I agreed with Reid's reason for voting against the Roberts nomination: He was concerned that Roberts did not take civil rights issues seriously enough and was critical of the White House for refusing to provide documentation that would nail down Roberts' judicial record in that area.

But just on the level of legal credentials, Roberts is far more qualified to be on the Supreme Court than Harriet Miers is. Ideologically, he is very problematic. But no one can reasonably question his professional qualifications to be on SCOTUS.

From the blogosphere, Maha quotes a number of right-wing sources who are not at all happy with Bush's choice, including Rich Lowry at NRO's The Corner (Lowry quotes a "pro-Bush legal source" who says that Miers is "third-rate") and John Hawkins at Right Wing News:

George Bush's decision to appoint Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is bitterly disappointing.

Miers is a Bush crony with no real conservative credentials, who leapfrogged legions of more deserving judges just because she was Bush's pal. She used to be Bush's staff secretary for God's sake and now she's going to the Supreme Court while people like Michael Luttig, Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown & Emilio Garza are being left on the sidelines.

To merely describe Miers as a terrible pick is to underestimate her sheer awfulness as a selection.

And one more, from Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal (via Michelle Malkin):

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.


Oh, and if any of you RNC staffers are reading, you can take my name off the mailing list. I am not giving the national Republican Party another dime.

Almost everyone on the right is incredibly upset with the choice of Miers. Lucky for Bush, he doesn't look at the news.

No comments: