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                                       politics + culture

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miers and the Court

Mark Schmitt, at the Decembrist, has a great post up about the Harriet Miers nomination.

"It's easy to get deeply involved in deep strategizing around this nomination. Should Democrats provoke the internal warfare of the Republicans by embracing Miers even more closely? Should they gamble on what Rumsfeld would call the unknown unknown over the known unknown?

I realized last night that all this is too much double-thinking. The one and only thing to remember about Miers is that she is totally unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court. ...[snip]...

Miers is to qualifications exactly what Brown and Owen were to ideology. She sets the bar so low that if she's considered qualified, then who -- other than, say, Jack Abramoff -- is not qualified? If Miers is confirmed, it effectively establishes that neither qualifications nor ideology should be a factor in confirmation."

Which gets me thinking about how, in the midst of the drama of the nominations, we are missing something essential about the changing nature of the Court itself. With Rehnquist and O'Connor gone, the new, and potentially largest, bloc on the court could be the conservative foursome of: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Miers.

In my view, Scalia and Thomas have been deeply damaging to the Court as an institution. Scalia is an anti-Justice whose hostility to the concept of the Court as a body at the service of the people through their Constitution is matched only by his disregard, present in his writings, for his colleagues. While Thomas, in his lonely ideological isolation, has served as little more than an obstacle to deliberation and comity on the Court. We can only hope he is never part of a functioning majority bloc. Adding Harriet Miers to these two is deeply troubling. We've seen little from Miers thus far that shows us that she is much more than a GOP shill. There's no humanity or overarching brilliance or respect for the Court...just steely political dedication that built a career and landed her at the President's ear. Indeed, her relationship to the executive branch may prove to be her fatal flaw.

In my view, the only thing worse than a conservative foursome becoming the largest bloc on the Court, would be if that foursome were made up of: Roberts plus three of the worst Supreme Court Justices ever.

In that respect, this is a startling nomination. It takes the essential character of Bush's presidency...putting politics over nation, an inability to rise to the task of leadership, a deep absence of competence...and institutionalizes it in the body of the Supreme Court.

Miers should not make it out of committee.



  • For the sake of the nation Bush might have nominated a brilliant moderate, acceptable to all sides. A Justice's Justice. Perhaps someone with enough conservative credentials that they could pass the base...but whose talent and capabilities and love of the Court, and the people it serves, were clear.

    Dreaming? Maybe.

    The Bush clan is bushel of rotting apples. It's too much to hope for apple pie.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 11:57 PM  

  • This is a gift. That Bush would stoop to this when the outcry over cronyism in his administration has been at a fever pitch following the Brownie/Katrina debacle is stupefying. The press, public, and true conservatives have finally awakened and become critical of Bush for making loyalty the only qualification for his appointments. This Miers nomination only serves as reinforcement to that. Now the Democrats should take advantage and shout this through their echo chamber as often and as loudly as they can. Even after the nomination is rejected, they should continue to scream it: "The GOP is nothing but a crony and corruption factory. They have no values, they are only out for themselves and their friends."

    Bloggers have been saying it for years, but the time is NOW for the Democratic Party led by Reid, Pelosi, and Dean to crank up the rhetoric. They need to use not only the White House corruption and cronyism, but DeLay and Abramoff, Frist and his insider trading, Iraq war profiteering, the Valerie Wilson outing, and every other GOP scandal both national and local to paint the entire GOP. They are ripe to be plucked. We must not let this moment pass. We can use this to build our momentum into 2006, and every Democratic congressional candidate should be on message with this: "Kick the corruption and the cronies out in '06. Bring back government 'for the people.'"

    ...government for the people. I believe this is the phrase that can be the salvation of liberalism. It is a simple 4 word summary of the core belief of the liberal philosophy: the government exists to serve the people. No more BS about the Democrats lacking ideas or ideals. No more. What do liberals stand for? Government for the people.

    Now let's take back our country!

    By Blogger mrboma, at 1:34 AM  

  • The Katrina failures have proliferated the schema of cronyism and irresponsibility that many of us have known for years. The Democrats wouldn't even have to convince the public about anything the public doesn't already know and agree about.. That this nomination is another example of the inner circle, as mrboma mentioned, that this nomination fits within a schema that for some, has just been created.

    Public opinion just seems to be lining up waiting to get on ride, a Democratic one. The Democratic leadership should be preparing a wonderful ride, and it should be open soon, VERY soon!

    By Blogger Dean, at 6:15 AM  

  • I think Bush is nominating her so as to protect him when all of the indictments come down.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:57 PM  

  • Miers is a tough one for me.

    As Mark mentions, there’s a lot of over-thinking going on. But I’m afraid if we shoot her down for whatever reason (and the low-standard reason is the best I’ve heard) we could move from the frying pan into the fire.

    Then again, there has been a marked improvement in the prospects of the Dem’s. In January, Bush had us by the balls. As the inevitable self-destruction has progressed, popular opinion has shifted to give your fault line Republicans enough cover or impetus to break from the Administration (the good news also being that if all the elections are rigged, the GOP senators don’t know it as they apparently think they still need real votes!).

    So, conceivably we now have a wee bit of capital, but how to spend it?

    It’s impossible to tell how nutty Miers will be or won’t be. Opposing her based on “low standards” is a good reason, but Bush will always put politics over nation. Regardless of the person or their name, they will be his best attempt to build that bloc.

    So maybe we give her a pass and keep the focus on Fitzgerald, Earle and Iraq? Or is defeating the nomination another way to drive down Bush’s approval rating, highlight Republican infighting and help push the pendulum back to the left?

    I wish I was smarter.

    By Anonymous DirtyD, at 1:09 AM  

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