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Joe S.

First, the apologies. I'm a yellow-dog D who thinks that almost all of Bush's judicial appointments are disasters. The cronyism in Miers' nomination is regusting, and her politics are way to my right, even if they are as good as I can hope.

But I keep hearing how Miers is unqualified for the Supreme Court. I think that I scent a bit too much credentialism. Miers is one of the leading luminaries of the Dallas bar, and became so on her own merits, well before she was a made Bushie. And Whizzer White was one of the luminaries of the Denver bar before Kennedy tapped him for the Supremes. Nobody complained about White's competence, either before or after. What's the difference? Whizzer was a football hero who graduated from Yale Law. Somehow, I don't think that White's football explots are the difference.

I'm in the law biz, and I graduated from Yale Law. I know some pretty good lawyers from Yale, but also know some pretty good lawyers from Jesus Barbecue U. I also know some relative dullards who clerked for Supreme Court judges, and some super-sharp people who did not. And I know a few Yalies who I wouldn't trust with a real estate closing. Pedigree is greatly overrated in the law business.

I know that Miers was a business litigator, unaccustomed to constitutional law. But this should not be held against her. Henry Friendly is on everybody's list of top five judges who didn't make the Supreme Court. He was a business litigator before he went on the bench, and a pretty slick Constitutionalist afterwards. As was Justice Stevens.

I doubt Miers would make it as a law professor, but Frankfurter or Scalia were never much as Justices.

Okay, so Miers is on nobody's list of the best nine lawyers in the country, and maybe not on any list of the best 100. But she would be on many lists of the best 1000. That ain't shabby. I don't think that this amounts to "unqualified for the Supreme Court." After all, I wouldn't consider Earl Warren one of the top 10,000 lawyers in America. He was a pol, not really a lawyer, but he made a mighty fine Chief Justice.

bob mcmanus

"If Miers is confirmed, it effectively establishes that neither qualifications nor ideology should be a factor in confirmation."

And perhaps that is a large factor in the President nominating her. That "advise and consent" means simply consent. "Imperial Presidency" seems to wildly understate the expansion of executive power the Bush administration seeks. Precedents are being established that not just make "elections matter", but make elections, not law, precedent, tradition, comity, but only elections matter.

Winner take all.


Joe, you can't serioulsy believe that being one of the top 1,000 lawyers in the country is enough to make one "qualified" to sit on the Supreme Court. There are only nine seats on the court. Surely we can afford to set the bar a bit higher than that. Bush has already lowered the bar on so many issues, I tend to agree with Decembrist that this is one worth fighting about on principle. Frankly, I'm not sure that Miers would even clear the low hurdle your suggest. I'm betting a lot of lawyers in DC, LA, and Washington would be willing to argue that she doesn't belong in the top 1,000. There are 400,000 members of the ABA--and even given the puff stories in the Times and Post today, I have a hard time believing she's really among the top 1,000.

More to the point, your comparisons to White and Warren just don't hold up. So what if Warren was a "pol." As Governor (three terms), and Attorney General of California, he dealt with constitutional issues regularly. He had a level of experience that even makes Roberts look weak, much less Miers! White was first in his class at Yale, clerked on the Supreme Court, and was Deputy Attorney General for two years. There's no comparison to Miers, Navy service, football, and links to PT-109 aside.

I'm sure if you go back to the Truman era, much less to the 19th century, you can probably find some rather unqualified justices who look rather similar to Miers. But that's no reason to adopt such a low standard now.

kid oakland

Great essay.

I think you point up the reasons that she may not make it out of committee....there are multiple nagging issues, including her deep involvement in the executive branch, that would make this a bad precedent, on top of which there are ideological motivations on either side...and that creates pressure to look for a "way out."

And, stepping back....while I concede that Roberts is a brilliant legal mind...I think folks may have underestimated the possibility that he may be much more deeply conservative than anyone now thinks. And so when you start to think how opinions would be shaped with: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Miers as a bloc....it becomes very, very clear that we are in a completely new territory here, and, really, a perilous one for our nation.

I think Scalia and Thomas have been quite damaging as Justices to the fabric of the court. And Miers shows no indication that she would bring "vision" "weight" or "humanity" to the new-look conservative bloc. She's clearly no O'Connor. (God, you wonder what she thinks.) A home run for Bush would have been a brilliant, visionary, accomplished moderate who had enough of a conservative pedigree to pass with the base, but who won the day on merit and brilliance alone.

Miers, whose public statements have been both overly 'Roved' and less than inspiring, makes me think that the only thing worse than a hard core conservative bloc on the Court....would be if that bloc were made up of Roberts + three of the worst Supreme Court justices ever.

Scary thought.

Lemon Merengue

She's a fixer. Her only distinguishing characteristics are envangelism and a nauseating loyalty. Democrats who don't oppose this nomination are abandoning the court.

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