Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Now that we have that piece of business out of the way, I am very disappointed in this choice.

First, it is clearly an affirmative action pick. I don't think you play social politics with something as important as this. Many are upset for this reason. It is not my primary beef. Had I believed that he picked a highly qualified minority or female judge over a more qualified white male I would not have said a peep.

Second, it is cronyism. President Bush has been rightly criticized for putting too many cronies in important positions. Every president in my lifetime has done this far too much, IMO, and President Bush is no exception. But this is the single most important appointment power a President gets. These people have lifetime appointments and there is nobody who can overrule them. Putting cronies on the circuit court or the appeals court is wrong, but there is a difference. The Supreme Court can, and does, overrule them. This makes the potential damage an unqualified or politically motivated lower court judge can do MUCH smaller than the Supreme Court. Randy Barnett has a great post at OpinionJournal about the real reason that Alexander Hamilton supported the Senate "advise and consent" clause. He believed it was to prevent President's from appointing cronies to important positions and wrote so.

Most importantly, I don't think she is qualified. I don't know the lady. I am sure she is a bright and competent lawyer. That is not good enough. Look at the resume of John Roberts and compare it to the resume of Harriet Miers. I don't care how many things she was the first woman to do. I do not make light of the reality of the glass ceiling in some places today and most places in years gone by. But she wasn't the first woman to do anything really extraordinary.

Harriet was the first woman to be hired at one of Dallas's top law firms, the first woman to become President of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas. Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas. In recognition of her achievements paving the way for women lawyers, Harriet's colleagues in Texas have honored her with numerous awards, most recently the Sandra Day O'Connor award for professional excellence.

There is some question of the term "top" in regard to her law firm. Apparently, it was one of the larger firms, but not considered "top" in terms of quality. Put that aside for a moment. She was the first woman to do many of these things in Dallas or Texas. She was not the first woman to do any of these things anywhere in the US. Many of the things she was the first woman to do are not impressive. They are the sorts of things that the really talented wouldn't apply for, such as the Dallas Bar Association President. A make-work job with a title, pure and simple. The only one of the things that she is listed as being the first woman to do that I would consider a boost to her or anyone being an SCJ is to head a law firm. It suggests that she is a capable lawyer who was respected by her peers at the firm. I appreciate and admire the fact that colleagues in Texas have honored her with awards for "being the first woman to...". It must encourage more girls and young woman to set their sites high. Great. Does it support a contention that she would be a good SCJ? Nope.

Let me not beat around the bush about this (sorry, couldn't help myself). There are 9 people allowed to be on that court at any given time. NINE. They make decisions on legal cases that affect all 380 million of us and occasionally billions more around the world. Anyone nominated to 1 of 9 lifetime, unelected, uncorrectable positions in the most powerful country on earth should be more than impressive. You should look at their resume and say "WOW! This person must be really, really smart. This person understands the law and can execute based on that understanding. I would hate to have to debate this person on any legal topic for money." I don't want a good, accomplished lawyer who is a friend of the President and believes that judges shouldn't legislate from the bench. I want somebody impressive to even the impressive among us.

All Presidents should be held to that standard by the Senate. I have seen resumes of folks at a lot of blogs that impress me. They are out there. Some of them are even women and minorities if the President insists on that requirement.

Justice Ginsberg should not have been confirmed. She had an impressive resume and is apparently a very impressive legal mind. She is really and truly WAY out of the mainstream. I don't think the same could have been fairly said about Clinton's other appointment. He was liberal, but he was mainstream liberal. He was qualified and the the President was a liberal, so you vote yes.

Robert Bork should have been confirmed. He was a mainstream conservative who didn't hide that fact. He was and is also one of the greatest legal minds of our time.

Ms. Miers should not be confirmed because she is not qualified given the competition that is out there. She is further, an unqualified crony and that is a good reason for a Senator to vote no. It has been done before but that doesn't make it right.

I wish her well staying in her current job and whatever she does after that. I think that the Supreme Court should be reserved for people that are out of her (and my) league.


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