In Support Of Miers

OK, part of what I find offensive in the attacks on Miers is this assumption that a Supreme Court justice has to be a philosopher-queen and a rocket scientist.

I think the court could be improved by an extra seat for a random housewife, or somebody who's been in jail. Actually Miers is pretty close to a rocket scientist; she has a degree in math. My ex, before law school, started out in rocket science and switched to a double major in math and religious studies.

The constitution is this country's instruction manual. If it is written in a dead language that can only be deciphered by handful of high priests, we all lose. We need someone on the court who can look at a set of facts, check the manual, and see what it says. Someone who can write one page opinions in clear English. We could use a few less Harvard grads.

By these standards, Miers is too qualified, not unqualified. She has more executive branch experience than any justice since William Howard Taft. She's been a fixer for the rich and powerful from Microsoft to Disney. She's been Bush's main handler, carefully screening what he sees and what he doesn't see. Eisenhower had a guy like that; Kennedy made sure he personally was in charge, when he wasn't in the pool screwing interns. Is she a crook? We don't know. Sometimes it takes years for the truth to come out about these sorts of things. Will she use her position on the court to help Bush, or future members of the Bush dynasty, to abuse power? We don't know.

Nixon appointed Rehnquist. In US v Nixon, Rehnquist voted with the other 8 that Nixon had to turn over the tapes, at which point he resigned. I know nothing about Miers to suggest she is corrupt and won't be an independent and scrupulous member of the court. She probably doesn't share my views on limited government. But in the absense of any smoking gun like the torture memos, I for one welcome our new Supreme overlords.

-- Arbitrary Aardvark

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your comment engine sucks.

your comment engine sucks. "not to rain on your parade", it began.

I just throw this out for

I just throw this out for consideration: is it unreasonable to say that a qualification for SC justice is that one be confirmable by the Senate? That is, would it be fair to say that someone who has exactly zero chance of being confirmed is therefore not qualified for the job?

That would _not_ mean that those who had been nominated but not confirmed (Bork, say) would by definition not be unqualified. But it probably would be a reason to think that an illiterate or a non-American or a housewife or (maybe) the President's brother would be unqualified.

The value of having someone

The value of having someone with experience as a judge is to see how well that person does under the serious pressure in that position in confronting difficult legal decisions. (As well as seeing what they actually believe.) Given the life time appointment, it is a bad risk to have someone learn on the job at the Supreme Court. And if that person flames out and just goes with the opinion of whomever she likes best, then lifelong consequence can be devastating (see Souter on eminent domain).

What is worse about the Miers nomination is the Republicans finally control the President and Senate. They can have a huge public debate on how the Constitution should be interpreted and finally blow out of the water ad-hoc judicial legislating that has plagued the court for decades. In the process they could destroy the judicial filibuster and probably also destroy the socialist-statist wing of the Democrat party (if not also some Republican statists). If that will not happen now, it will never happen. And that is an outrage.

Bush has betrayed the libertarians who supported Republicans in the hopes of finally reining in government power. He is more profligate than LBJ. He is no less a statist than Kerry would have been, who at least would have been restrained by a opposition Congress. And now he puts up two SC justices who are at best meek advocates of judicial restraint and strict interpretation of the Constitution. Short of abolishing private ownership of gold I don't know what else Bush could do to completely betray this libertarian's support of him in two elections.

"The constitution is this

"The constitution is this country’s instruction manual. If it is written in a dead language that can only be deciphered by handful of high priests, we all lose. We need someone on the court who can look at a set of facts, check the manual, and see what it says. Someone who can write one page opinions in clear English."

in on your parade, folks, but, there's a little more to it than deciphering the "dead language" it is written in. Unless one were to run with a struct constructionist vehicle, then it is prudent to consider, in SCOTUS cases, the judicial history/precedent of related cases from the past, as well as how the document jives with the judicial environment and the principles of this particular constitutional republic. Judy Housewife might be able to read the constitution, look at a case, and spit out a 1-page opinion on it, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a "supreme" court, now doesn't it?

Sure. And in a "true"

Sure. And in a "true" democracy" we would pick all public servants at random from the phone book to serve short-term sentences. Say a new president every year, congress people every six months, and maybe supreme court justices in staggared 3 month terms. That way The People would really control the levers of power. Now every now and then the dice would give us nothing but lefties and sometimes arch conservatives. But hey, at least every point of view would have a chance.

As a side note: at least this way a libertarian or two would have a chance at holding office!

Wow, serious deja vu. I was

Wow, serious deja vu. I was just making some related points in the comments below, hit refresh, and saw some familar words. Thanks.

I agree completely. In a

I agree completely.

In a semi-related note, I'm not sure if liberty wouldn't be better protected by having 9 complete idiots on the court. Having intelligent justices certainly isn't working.

Apart from knowledge of the

Apart from knowledge of the law and all, there are two qualities that I would have thought stood above all others -

Independance from influence

Objectivity of judgement.

With that in mind;

How would you have reacted had JFK nominated Robert Kennedy as Chief Justice SCOTUS instead of Attorney General?

How much removed from "blood relation" is "personal attorney"?

There is another problem

There is another problem with the President-as-failsafe model that makes Miers' nomination even more troublesome. While the public, the press, and other politicians tend to look at the Supreme Court as this great deliberative body that is forever taking on big, exciting cases of huge Constitutional importance, that's really a junior high civics cartoon of how the court operates. Such cases are notable mostly because they're pretty rare. It is inevitable that most of the court's docket in any given session is dominated by relatively dry matters of technical and procedural law.

Presidents in general, and this president in particular, are not usually in a good position to judge a candidate's qualifications to consider such matters. For that, he turns, first and foremost, to his Office of Legal Counsel to provide him with guidance.

But, of course, Miers is COMING FROM the OLC. So, in assuring the American people that Harriet Miers is qualified to handle the job of Supreme Court justice, President Bush's key advisors were...Harriet Miers, and people who work for Harriet Miers.

Virginia Postrel comments on

Virginia Postrel comments on the "anti-snobbery defense" of Miers here:

She's actually got quite a lot of comment on Miers at her blog:

Miers' favorite Supreme

Miers' favorite Supreme Court Justice: "Warren." Earl Warren or Warren Burger? "Warren Burger."

She thinks that George W.

She thinks that George W. Bush is the most brilliant man she ever met and attends a church that appears to support young-earth creationism (its website links to the site of the Rev. Carl Baugh, one of the sleaziest and most dishonest young-earth creationists around, a guy with phony degrees who actually gets debunked by his fellow young-earth creationists).

Add to that her inexperience and her proximity to scandal (Texas Lottery Commission/Gtech award, the Locke Liddell & Sapp settlement for defrauding investors), and I don't see how anyone can support her nomination.

I don't think she'll be confirmed.

She MAY be qualified. But

She MAY be qualified. But this is a rather important decision to hang on a MAY, especially when the primary vouchsafe for her is a man with a long track record of poor judgement both with respect to constitutional law (e.g. his signing the BCFRA even while openly stating it was unconstitutional) and personal character (e.g. his comments on looking into Putin's soul and finding out what a great guy he was).

And even if Bush is right, and Miers is the second coming of James Madison, I still would think this is a bad nomination. Her judicial philosophy (whether good or bad) seem to be entirely coincidental to the reason she was nominated.

My problem with Miers isn't what she's NOT; it's what she is: a beuracratic politico who's only qualification is her up to now obsequious loyalty to the man who chose her.

Very good and perceptive

Very good and perceptive post. Some of the criticisms of this lady's appointment may be justified. The way in which Bush appointed her was slapdash and smacks of cronyism, but the woman herself may be perfectly able to carry out her duties with skill and wisdom.

Apparantly, you are one of

Apparantly, you are one of those people that are either blind, or refuse
to remove your blinders. Regardless, unless you have been under a rock
lately you should know what Bush's agenda is. Its not in support of the Constitution, its in effort to dismantle it. Its apparent you are one of those fools who followed Bush through the years and now that its clear that he is destroying this country, you are so such a proud person that you cannot admit you made a mistake. Wake up. This is not about you. This is about all Americans. I certainly didn't expect this to happen, and Ill be damned if Im going to sit by and watch it happen. Our children do not deserve this mess we created. Hopefully, we can change it for their sake.