Harriet Miers Nominee for Supreme Court
White House counsel Harriet Miers will be nominated to the Supreme Court at an 8 a.m. press conference.
President Bush is expected Monday to name White House counsel Harriet Miers as his choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Bush will announce his nominee at an Oval Office event at 8 a.m. ET.
If confirmed by the Senate, Miers, 60, would join Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second sitting female justice on the bench. O’Connor became the court’s first ever female justice in 1981.
Miers, who has never been a judge, was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar Association. She also served on the Dallas City Council.
Her resume is impressive enough but it is unclear why Bush would nominate someone this old to the Court. In recent years, the trend has been to pick someone in their mid-40s or early 50s to increase the likelihood they would serve a long time.
Update: White House Counsel to Replace O’Connor (NYT-AP)
President Bush chose Harriet Miers, White House counsel and a loyal member of the president’s inner circle, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, senior administration officials said Monday.
Without a judicial record, it’s difficult to know whether Miers would dramatically move the court to the right. The lack of a judicial paper trail may also make it more difficult for Democrats to find ground upon which to fight her nomination.
“There’s every indication that she’s very similar to Judge Roberts — judicial restraint, limited role of the court, basically a judicial conservative,” said Republican consultant Greg Mueller, who works for several conservative advocacy leaders.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president offered the job to Miers Sunday night over dinner in the residence. He met with Miers on four occasions during the past couple weeks, McClellan said.
Both Democratic and Republican senators recommended Miers as a possible nominee, he said. Senators also suggested that Bush consider picking someone who was not a judge so the bench would be flush with justices from all walks of life.
“Harriet Miers, like Justice O’Connor, has been a trailblazer and a pioneer,” said Rick Garnett, a law professor at Notre Dame and former law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. “Like Justice O’Connor, Ms. Miers has broken through barriers in the law, serving as a leader and role model, and impressing everyone with her decency and her sharp intellect. She would be a worthy and appropriate successor to Justice O’Connor, and would carry to the court a commitment to constitutionalism, judicial restraint, and the rule of law.”
The White House will announce a nominee this morning at 8:00 a.m. to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, according to an administration official. There were unconfirmed reports this morning that his choice is White House Counsel Harriet Miers, once Bush’s personal lawyer and the administration official coordinating the search for a new justice.
Miers’s low-key but high-precision style has been particularly valued in a White House where discipline in publicly articulating policy and loyalty to the president are highly valued.
I find it amusing that, like Dick Cheney, the person coordinating the search turned out the be the best choice available.
Update: Judging from the TrackBacks below, other Bush allies are similarly underwhelmed by this selection. Considering that the type of nominees they are likely to pick for the Supreme Court is one of the chief factors many of us look at when assessing a presidential candidate, this is especially disappointing.
John Hawkins paints the worst case scenario:
Keep in mind that we’re talking about a woman who has donated to Al Gore, Lloyd Bentsen, & the Democratic National Committee before. You want a candidate who has “Souter” written all over her? You want a candidate who can’t be trusted to overturn Roe v. Wade? Well, her name is Harriet Miers.
This is undoubtedly the worst decision of Bush’s entire presidency so far.
John Hinderacker is more measured, calling her merely “a disappointment.”
I’m sure that she is a capable lawyer and a loyal aide to President Bush. But the bottom line is that he had a number of great candidates to choose from, and instead of picking one of them–Luttig, McConnell, Brown, or a number of others–he nominated someone whose only obvious qualification is her relationship with him.
“Stealth” nominees have not turned out well for Republicans.
While President Bush is not playing from a position of commanding strength, to say the least, at the moment, virtual surrender to the Democrats on something this important is hardly necessary. I would have much preferred a noted conservative judicial scholar who, like John Roberts, commanded respect for his intellect and temperament even from ideological opponents.
Judges Luttig and McConnell are the most qualified nominees out there, but I think from the start that the president must have decided that this seat would be given to a woman, and it is very hard to argue that she is not the most qualified woman to be on the SCOTUS for the simple reason that she has been in the White House for many years.
Frankly, that’s not much of an endorsement. The explanation is only slightly more satisfying:
Consider that none of the Justices, not even the new Chief, has seen the battlefield in the GWOT from the perspective or with the depth of knowledge as has the soon to be Justice Miers. The Counsel to the President has seen it all, and knows what the President knows, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs and the Attorney General.
I suspect that the President thinks first and foremost about the GWOT each morning, and that this choice for SCOTUS brings to that bench another Article II inclined justice with the sort of experience that no one inside the Court will have.
Of course, Article III judges are supposed to have an independent perspective. I prefer a judge who will read and apply the Constitution, not factor in their career experience.