I, of course, have no particular education, experience, or training that makes me a knowledgeable commenter on the nomination of Harriet Miers. And, of course, that won't stop me from commenting.
Five years from now, we'll know if President Bush made a good choice. But for now, we can only speculate.
Reasons to dislike the nomination:
1. A tin ear for politics
Harriet Miers is a close Bush confidant (or should that be confidante?). In other words, she will be called a crony. Coming so close after the Michael Brown hullabaloo, was this the best time to promote a woman whose biggest asset is a close relationship to the President?
(Aside: the whole Brown crony allegation is rather unfair; why wasn't he a crony when his agency effectively managed four Florida hurricanes? Why did he only become a crony when disaster hit corrupt Louisiana?)
That's the number of Republican senators. Even if you lose RINOs Snowe, Chafee, and Collins, you can still approve anyone. Why not nominate a stronger conservative with well-known conservative credentials? And if you rile up the Democrats and end up with ending filibusters on judicial nominations, all the better.
3. A backroom deal?
It was quickly reported that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid approved of the nomination. That's a bad sign, indicating that perhaps President Bush cut a deal to get a quick approval. Cutting deals is what you do when the other party controls the Senate, not when your party controls the Senate.
4. Who belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Not every baseball player, not even every baseball player with a ten year Major League career, belongs in the Hall of Fame. That honor is reserved for players with exemplary careers. Similarly, the Supreme Court is thought of as a place for jurists with distinguished careers. Typically, they will include graduation from a top law schools, clerkships in top courts, teaching law, and of course service on various lower courts.
I'm sure Harriet Miers is qualified to be on the Supreme Court, as are thousands of other people. But people will see (again, the political tin ear) that she isn't the best person, and isn't the Supreme Court a place for the best people?
Reasons to like the nomination:
1. A stronger conservative than could otherwise be nominated
If we trust that President Bush's close relationship ensures he knows Harriet Miers is a dedicated conservative and strict constructionalist, then she will have an easier time with confirmation than an equally conservative person with a strong paper trail.
2. It's a trap!
Conspiracy theorists are already suggesting that the Miers nomination is meant to be disapproved, allowing President Bush to nominate someone else. If, for example, she were to be rejected because she isn't distinguished, President Bush could nominate a very distinguished and staunchly conservative judge. It would be hard to argue that you wanted a more distinguished candidate, then vote against a more distinguished candidate. (Many Democrats would act in this hypocritical manner, of course.)
This hypothesis doesn't sound like something President Bush would do, but it is interesting.
Here's what I wanted President Bush to say:
"A month ago, I nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roberts is an extremely distinguished jurist, extremely knowledgeable about the law, and importantly, not an extreme ideologue. I expected a smooth confirmation hearing, where senators would respect that judges cannot discuss how they would rule on cases, without forcing themselves to recuse themselves from cases. I expected the Senate Minority Leader would support such a strong nominee, and urge his party to support the nominee. I expected a margin of approval similar to that enjoyed by Justices Ginsberg and Breyer.
"Instead, half of the Senate Democrats voted against this obviously well-qualified nominee. They even acknowledged that he was well-qualified, but voted against him because they didn't like what they thought his political beliefs were.
"It is clear that no candidate, regardless of ideology, will be treated fairly by Senate Democrats. Thus, I have not chosen to nominate another politically uncontroversial candidate. I have instead nominated (Brown/Luttig/McConnell) for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court."
See the discussion at the RINO Watering Hole
For N.Z. Bear's tracking purpose, let me say:I am neutral on the Miers nomination.Harriet Miers