Bitching Brew

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Final post on the Miers saga, probably...

Harriet Miers has today withdrawn her Supreme Court nomination. I think that's the best outcome for all concerned.

There are two big losers from this embarrassing affair. Politically, President Bush has come out of this looking like a fool. He nominated an unqualified candidate, one that even his own base couldn't bring themselves to support. His standing among conservatives has been badly damaged, by both a perceived betrayal and the accusations of cronyism. It's likely many Republican candidates in the 2006 elections will seek to distance themselves from Bush. Among the general public, confidence in Bush continues to fall. This humiliation was the last thing he needed, following on from Katrina and the continuing debacle in Iraq.

Bush deserves all the blame for this one. Not only has he wounded himself, but one of his close friends (Miers herself) has been exposed to international ridicule. You can't condemn the woman for accepting the nomination. Who wouldn't?! She was manifestly unqualified, which isn't a crime in itself. Upwards of 99.9% of Americans would be similarly unqualified. Yet for this failing - the failing to be exceptional - she has surely suffered, both emotionally and professionally. Despite my mocking of the whole affair, I can't help but feel sympathy for Harriet Miers. The media coverage was necessary (in order to stall this nomination), yet it was cruel too. I don't think that could be avoided. But let's not forget the real victim here, nor the culprit. Miers didn't nominate herself. Had Bush nominated a fly-fisherman from Kansas City, said fly-fisherman would have been a victim too.

The withdrawal was the right decision. It gives Miers some dignity in defeat, rather than forcing her to face the shame of being rejected in committee. Right-wing Republicans will be heartened, hoping the President will choose a more qualified nominee next time, someone in an strict constructionist or originalist mould. Democrats should also be satisfied. They might soon face a candidate whose political views they strongly disagree with, but the qualifications of a potential justice should take precedence over his or her philosophy. Had they voted to confirm Miers for short-term political reasons, they would have done their country a grave disservice, and marked themselves as unfit for government.

Comments welcome from all, especially Americans. ;)

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  • Unfortunately, I think it's impossible to separate qualications from judicial philosophy, because what passes for "qualifications" is so undefined.

    Certainly, everyone can agree that experience with constitutional issues is helpful. And experience as a judge is helpful. But neither is required.

    Beyond that, who's to say what the important qualifications are? Should the nominee be representative of mainstream American views? Of mainstream American legal views?

    How important is it to have both men and women on the Court? Liberals and conservatives? Catholics and Jews and atheists?

    Should the Court be "representative" in some way?

    The truth is, judicial philosophies are frequently tailored to yield a particular result, i.e., strict constructionism, can be used to achieve a variety of politically conservative goals. It's this intertwining of law and politics that makes these issues so contentious, IMHO.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your blog, though I have to say that I've never viewed my female body as any kind of "prison." ;)

    By Blogger Blue Moon Mama, at Tue Nov 01, 01:58:00 p.m.  

  • I would think qualifications (however undefined they are) should be the primary concern. After that, the judicial philosophy comes into play.

    There may be a case for vetoing a nominee on grounds of the latter. But the idea that an incapable nominee could be confirmed, just because she had amiable political views, is an outrage.

    IMO, a USSC nominee requires at least one of the following: (a) judicial experience; (b) significant experience with constitutional issues, with excellent original writings to prove it; (c) a stellar record as a litigator or legislator; (d) exceptional merit as a legal academic. Miers appeared to have none of those merits.

    I agree that courts - particularly the Supreme Court - should be diverse, in both philosophy and background. But you got... another white man. (A Christian too - quelle surprise.) A nominee couldn't be vetoed for being 'unrepresentative' though.

    I'm not a trained lawyer, mind. Though I've studied a little.

    And I'm glad your body isn't a prison! (I hear jail isn't half as much fun as it's cracked up to be.) Bodies are supposed to be fun. ;)

    By Blogger Martin, at Wed Nov 02, 08:54:00 p.m.  

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