Here we go again. Another pick for the Supreme Court without much–or, in this case, any–judicial experience. And that will make it hard for senators–or anyone else–to assess what sort of Justice Harriet Miers, currently George W. Bush’s White House counsel, will be if the Senate confirms her as Bush’s pick to replace the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor. In announcing his selection of Miers, Bush said, “I believe that senators of both parties will find that Harriet Miers’s talent, experience and judicial philosophy make her a superb choice.”
But what precisely is her “judicial philosophy”? And how can it be discerned? Miers has never been a judge (which should not be a disqualification). She spent most of her career as a corporate lawyer (Bush was once a client) before joining the Bush Administration as staff secretary. Does she qualify as a crony? According to the Los Angeles Times, Miers introduced Bush and Alberto Gonzales in the 1990s. (Given Miers’s close personal connection to Bush, senators might want to ask whether it’s good for the nation to have a Supreme Court Justice who has such a tight bond with a person whose decisions and policies come before the Court.) In private practice, she headed one of Texas’ largest law firms, Locke Lidell & Sapp, and as a trial litigator she represented Microsoft and Disney. She also racked up a series of firsts: first woman to lead a major law firm in the Lone Star State, first woman to become president of the Dallas Bar Association, first woman to become president of the state bar.
But–again–what is her “judicial philosophy”? It seems that even conservatives are not sure–and worried. Conservative bloggers and commenters quickly expressed anxiety over this nomination, not knowing if Miers is truly a conservative. “Utterly Underwhelmed,” proclaimed conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. On one conservative site, a reader posted campaign finance reports showing that Miers donated $1,000 to the Democratic Party in 1988 and $1,000 to Al Gore’s presidential campaign that year, as well as $1,000 to a Democratic senatorial candidate the previous year. (Egads! Maybe this is not a disaster of a pick for Democrats.) Soon after Bush unveiled the Miers nomination, David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, observed:
I worked with Harriet Miers. She’s a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated….I could pile on the praise all morning. But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or – and more importantly – that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.