Harriet Miers: Upon Further Review, Still Mediocre

The early reaction of conservatives to the Harriet Mier nomination ranged from underwhelmed to angry. After some time to weigh additional evidence and get beyond the hasty initial impression, the reaction is unchanged.

Steve Bainbridge:

The Supreme Court of the United States is no place for B+ picks. It’s a place for A+ picks. This is the big leagues. Decisions that affect millions of lives are made routinely by this Court. Over the last 40 years or so, those decisions have consistently devalued life while endorsing an ever more expansive role for the federal government. You don’t bring the Constitution back from Exile with your B team; you bring your A team to that fight.

Pat Buchanan:

Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day — to name his personal lawyer.


[H]er qualifications for the Supreme Court are non-existent. She is not a brilliant jurist, indeed, has never been a judge. She is not a scholar of the law. Researchers are hard-pressed to dig up an opinion. She has not had a brilliant career in politics, the academy, the corporate world or public forum. Were she not a friend of Bush, and female, she would never have even been considered.

Dan Drezner:

Look, maybe Miers is supremely qualified — I’m sure the hearings will reveal something about her competence at jurisprudence. However, a glance at her cv — and those praising her accomplishments — suggests that beyond not having ever served on a bench, she appears to have held no other job of parallel legal distinction. Would Miers ever be an answer to any legal question that starts, “Name the top nine lawyers who _____” — besides serving George W. Bush for an extended period of time? In a post-Katrina environment, that dog won’t hunt.

Lawrence Solum quotes Alexander Hamilton from Federalist 78:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Fersboo says:

    The wonderful thing about this presidency is the way everyone thinks the President has made some error, just to find out later that the decision isn’t quite as dire as predicted. There have been a number of unknowns brought forward by the President, not including Mr. Rumsfield’s ‘unknown unknowns’, and they have performed quite well, IMHO.

  2. Jim Durbin says:

    She could be a female Scalia and it would still be disappointing.

    Bush lost an opportunity to focus the debate on where the country should head – and it is doubtful he will get another chance before the 2006 elections.

    I’m wondering if maybe the catcalls of having an out-of-touch, arrogant CEO president who never really supported conservatives and relies too much on loyalty and his personal instincts on people are the simplest answer.

    The belief that this is some Rovian plot can’t cover all exigencies.

    Bush did what he wanted to do – because he wanted to do it.

    He’s no John Kerry – but he’s not someone conservatives should back fully. What has he accomplished? He’s governed to the left of Clinton and may well cost the Republicans the Congress in the next three years.

    Then we get another Clinton, who stacks the court with liberals – and what is his legacy then?

    Disappointing this president is.

  3. Sal says:

    I think Harriet Mier could well be a great choice. From the commentary made about her it’s apparent that she’s been the “first woman in Texas to…” more than once, may be even enough times to get on a ‘top nine’ list somewhere. She’s tight lipped, tough, inspires loyalty and can compromise if that’s the rational thing to do. We certainly need more women on this bench.
    The fact that Rush Limbaugh is ‘disappointed’ is a big plus for her in my book.

  4. Ira says:

    Much of the “first woman to do” stuff almost makes me think of Hillary Clinton, except we don’t have anything like “the first woman to be made a partner in the law firm, right around the time her husband was elected governor…”
    Bush has done plenty of things I don’t care for (eg, making nice with Sen Chivas Regal (D-Mass) to get the ‘No Child left Behind” thing passed), but I am willing to give him the benifit of the doubt on this. After all, he could have passed over Rice to find another Colin Powell for Sec of State, etc.

  5. x says:

    i think that she isnt a good selection. this is so she has no experience what so ever. She cant contribute anything to the other justices or the fellow americans. The senate is sure to improve her appointment just for the fact she is of a nominee of Bush , and everyone knows Bush gets what he wants.