Harriet Miers: Not So Mediocre?
This morning, I presented the majority view of conservative bloggers and opinion leaders that Harriet Miers was a less-than-stellar nominee for the Supreme Court.
The former, especially, refutes the “not qualified” label that most have bestowed on Miers. I agree with his reasoning and, indeed, remarked that “her resume is impressive enough” in my initial posting on the subject. Miers is a perfectly competent lawyer who has been quite successful throughout her career, despite having spent the formative part of it in an era when women simply did not become prominent attorneys, least of all in Texas. And she did that long before George W. Bush was in any position to help her.
Still, the former academician in me does expect a Supreme Court nominee to have a “well-considered ‘judicial philosophy'” a’la Randy Barnett. Perhaps that is a luxury of those who live in an ivory tower but it is the most effective way to guage what type of Justice the appointee will make. This is especially important for someone without a substantial tenure as an appelate judge. Pragmatism is likely a good and necessary trait in a litigator. It is likely a recipe for inconsistency as a judge.
Beldar notes that Miers’ resume compares quite favorably with Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. at the time of their nominations. To which conservative critics will say: Exactly. Both are bright, decent, hard-working citizens who served their nation honorably. Neither, however, had a consistent view of the Constitution.
To return to now-Chief Justice John Roberts’ sports analogy, judges are umpires. I prefer one whose strike zone is the same from inning to inning and game to game. Ideally, I prefer one whose strike zone is the same as that in the Official Rules of Baseball. If I’m going select an umpire for the World Series who has never called a game before, I would at least like to know what their view of the strike zone is. If they tell me they’ve never thought about it much because they’ve been too busy working, I am unlikely to be impressed.
Update: Steven Taylor seconds my thoughts above observing,
I think that SCOTUS should be populated with thinkers. It is a place where we should seek to place our best legal minds. Indeed, on one level, I would prefer a brilliant liberal on the court than a mundane conservative.
Quite so. Ultimately, Taylor deems Miers “a fairly run-of-the-mill candidate.” I would note, though, that by recent standards she is not even a run-of-the-mill Supreme Court candidate.
That is, my views are not mutually exclusive: She is a bright woman with an impressive resume; just not bright and impressive by the standards of the august body to which she has been nominated. To make yet another sports analogy, my reaction would be similar if the Dallas Cowboys were to announce they had signed Major Applewhite to be their new quarterback.