Monday, October 10, 2005
I love that title from The Confederate Yankee. Anyway, after having read blogs and articles about Miers, I thought I'd give my opinion on the matter.
The first thing to note is that overall, the argument that Miers lacks the qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice is not a good one. To begin with, the Constitution does not stipulate the qualifications needed to be a Justice. One does not need to be a judge; one does not need to work in the government; one does not need to be admitted to the Bar; heck, one doesn't even need to be a lawyer. All the Constitution requires is the advice and consent of the Senate. Of course, the Senate may advise to nominate someone who has some legal experience, but it is not required. Hence, this argument fails.
However, that being said, this pick smells of cronyism despite the supporters contentions, many of whom I would probably agree with politically. Although I just said that qualifications are not constitutionally required, President Bush put her qualifications into play, and now they are fair game. After all, he said, in response to a reporter's question if she were the best-qualified candidate, he replied, "Yes, otherwise I wouldn't have put her on.". One question I would like to have answered: "What makes Harriet Miers more qualified that Janice Rogers Brown, who has actually served on a supreme court?" Others like to point out that some justices did not have experience as a judge. That's fine. So, this question: "What makes Harriet Miers more qualified than Theodore Olson, who among other qualifications has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Bush v. Gore?" Remember, Bush said she was the best qualified, so he should be able to tell us why she is better than Edith Jones, and all the other potential nominees.
Secondly, the cronyism really shows unexpectedly in the defender's secondary argument. We are told we should just trust Bush for two reasons: 1. He knows his woman, and 2. His other judicial picks have been solid.
In response to the first assertion, simply because someone is "known" is irrelevant. John Sununu thought he knew David Souter when he recommended him to the elder Bush in 1991. He was supposed to be a "home run," but the ball never made it back to the pitcher's mound. Secondly, Bush is hardly a good judge of character. Remember when he peered into the soul of Vladimir Putin? The second assertion, however, is far more damning.
The second assertion would make sense if it were not contradictory. If Bush's judicial picks have been solid, then one wonders why he did not nominate the "best qualified candidate" to a federal judgeship earlier. After all, if she is qualified for the Supreme Court, she is certainly qualified for the District or Courts of Appeals. Some may dismiss this assertion, but it has legs. Prior to Justice O'Connor's retirement letter to the President, he had no idea if he would appoint a Justice to the Court. There were rumors, of course, and there was the Chief Justice's thyroid cancer, but nothing was ever certain. Since this was the case, why was she not appointed to a lower court? If there were no retirements or deaths during Bush's presidency, then "the best qualified candidate" would never have been given the chance to shine. Certainly a Democratic President would not nominate her. Furthermore, one now has to wonder: was she more qualified than now-Chief Justice Roberts? If Roberts were more qualified, why was he more qualified at the time over Miers (and remember, judgeship has no bearing, according to some defenders)? If Miers were more qualified than Roberts, than why was she not originally nominated for O'Connor's seat? Surely her qualifications did not become "best" over the couple weeks between Roberts's nomination and Chief Justice Rehnquist's death.
The whole things smells of cronyism. When the best arguments that people have are name-calling and "trust me," one wonders if they really have a case at all.