Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Miers approved by Reid?

I have no problem with the President meeting with Democrat Senators to discuss his nominees, but only with the understanding that he's doing it as part of a formalistic checklist, as opposed to a meeting to come to a (suppress gag) consensus nominee.

And the less I know about this person, the more concerned I become. She has pro-life credentials, which is nice, but my readers should know that I am not concerned about one's political beliefs if I am convinced that those beliefs are left in the car on the way in to the Court. I want a justice who will strictly apply the law and apply law with the original intent of the drafters, not with a meaning that might be read into the text of a law.

Yesterday's post linking to World Magazine's very informative blog was helpful. Her job as a contract drafter is helpful, as contracts tends to be an area of the law that tends much more to that which is "cut and dried" as opposed to artful interpretation.

And her role as a Democrat donating to Al Gore in 1988 gives me little pause. Texas was one of the last Democrat holdouts in the south, and home to some of the most conservative Democrats, like Phil Gramm who later became a Republican. And remember, Zell Miller (D-GA) was a Democrat too. And Al Gore was not in 1988 the populist leftist that he later became. He started as a pro-life congressman from Tennessee, whose father, a former Tennessee Senator as well, was pro-Vietnam, costing him his seat. Al got elected to the Senate, and was a fairly moderate guy. His wife Tipper fought the entertainment industry for producing profane albums, movies and shows, costing him some support in the 2000 primaries. He only turned nutty early in the 1990s, and went overboard by 2000. Earth in the Balance (1992) was probably the watershed moment.

But I am uncomfortable with just how similar the comparisons are to David Souter. But a few valid points have been uttered by others that bear repeating here about the differences between Souter and Miers.

Souter was an unknown quality from New Hampshire. Bush accepted Souter's credentials based upon recommendations from John Sununu, his chief of staff from New Hampshire, and then-Sen. Warren Rudman (R-NH), a Republican in the Chafee tradition. The runup to his hearings and eventual confirmation involved him being asked the abortion question, stating to the press "In a word, no." Which led the Guy Smiley Senator, Joe Biden (D-DE) to say that he couldn't vote for anyone who was not wedded to the idea of terminating unborn children. The comparisons of Souter to Robert Bork were equally encouraging to Republicans/frightening to Democrats. If only we knew...

Of course, the mystery of Miers now has conservatives scared, especially given the fact that Harry Reid (D-NV) is supporting this nomination. Is he stupid or does he know something we and Bush don't? Of encouragement, though, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is troubled by her nomination. If we can get another intelligent Democratic Senator on the Judiciary Committee to oppose her (Kennedy, Durbin, Biden and Leahy don't count--they're partisan fools), like Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) or Russ Feingold (D-WI) (but I'd discount Feinstein's disapproval just a bit, as she's up for reelection, although to a fairly safe seat. This won't kill her.). It's unlikely, though, as neither of these Senators are much for grandstanding.

But as has been mentioned, Miers is known to Bush personally. She is loyal to him. She has an impressive set of legal credentials on the Texas level. She is certainly no lightweight. And she is a devout Christian. But to me, those things are window dressing. They don't tell me how she will treat the law. Michael Luttig's record would tell me just how safe an option he is, as would Michael McConnell's. Which, in Bush's mind made them liabilities--along with their gender. Because there was a push for a woman, which may have made things worse.

I disagree with the notion that we must have a multi-ethnic and diverse judiciary. Who cares what color or gender the justices are, so long as they faithfully interpret the Constitution from an originalist point of view, and avoid political activism of any stripe. If you have those things, you won't have to worry if a justice is left right or center, because you almost certainly won't get any future Roes, Lawrences, Ropers or Kelos because an originalist does not feel it to be his or her place to add to the law as these cases did, leaving it to the people's elected representatives to make those decisions.

But focusing on a candidate's attributes that have no bearing on her quality as a jurist tends to select people in spite of their qualifications, rather than as a result of them. There is no rule stating that we must replace a woman with a woman, or minority with minority, although this has been the practice.

Bottom line, Bush needed a stronger pick. He has always behaved as if he had no excuses to make for using the executive power. This seems so far to be an unfortunate compromise. We'll see.


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