After Miers, Bush May Not Feel Need to Nominate Woman
Close advisors to President Bush say that having nominated Harriet Miers may innoculate him from the perceived need to appoint a woman to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the court.
In choosing a replacement for Harriet E. Miers, President Bush may feel less of a need to select a woman to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, several lawyers and analysts said Thursday. The lawyers and analysts, all of whom have been involved in directly or indirectly counseling the White House about Supreme Court selections, also said that because of Mr. Bush’s desire to move quickly, he would probably choose from the roster of candidates whom he has considered before and whose backgrounds and records have been extensively researched.
The consensus among the handful of people who spoke about Mr. Bush’s situation was that in addition to deciding whether he had the leeway to replace Justice O’Connor with a man, Mr. Bush will have to deal with other more pressing political questions in making his selection. Among the questions: How much of his decision will be affected by a need to satisfy his conservative base, which shocked him with its widespread rejection of Ms. Miers?
And how much of a political fight with Democrats is he willing to risk by naming someone in the mold of the conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. One decision about any new nominee that seems beyond doubt is that Mr. Bush and his aides – and they awkwardly still include Ms. Miers on this issue – will select a candidate with unassailable legal credentials and a firm grounding in constitutional law. Ms. Miers’s experience as a corporate lawyer was dismissed as having little relevance, and her relative inexperience with constitutional issues and reasoning, the heart of the Supreme Court’s work, was treated with disdain by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.
One lawyer close to the president said that when Mr. Bush chose Ms. Miers he did so after concluding there was not a long roster of female candidates with whom he felt comfortable. “When he chose her,” said the lawyer, “she was one of three finalists and the other two were men.” The other two candidates, the lawyer said, were federal appeals court judges, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and J. Michael Luttig, both of whom remain leading candidates who would bring strong legal and judicial credentials to any confirmation battle.
While I understand the political pressure to not halve the number of women on the court, it should be noted that Bush’s initial choice to replace O’Connor was not Miers but John Roberts.