Well, that’s not quite what he said, of course. Senator Arlen Specter actually said that the intricacies of constitutional law as developed by the last generation of Supreme Court justices might be too much for a mere corporate lawyer and White House counsel:
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he plans to vigorously question Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers about her qualifications because she has not proved to him she can handle the weighty issues that come before the high court. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he has questions about Miers’ grasp of privacy and abortion law.
“I think she may well turn out to be the best qualified once we give her a chance to be heard,” Specter said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But when you deal in constitutional law, you’re dealing in some very esoteric, complicated subjects that require a great deal of background.”
“The jurisprudence is very complicated, and I will be pressing her very hard on these issues,” he said.
Yes, it’s very complicated to explain why the Constitutional right of “privacy,” which the document never mentions, means that states can’t prohibit abortion, which the document also never mentions–except, of course, during the first three months of pregnancy–but only starting in 1973, after Supreme Court justices, legislators, and pretty much everyone else failed to notice anything about abortion in the Constitution for around 180 years. Yes, that’s esoteric and complicated, all right.
Miers’ lack of experience as a judge is one of the main shortcomings alleged by many of her critics. Actually, though, the Constitution doesn’t require Supreme Court justices to be lawyers, let alone judges. I’ve always thought it might be salutary to have a non-lawyer or two on the Court. God knows we have plenty of businessmen, scientists, historians, housewives and others who are perfectly competent to read and understand the Constitution or a federal statute. And I think it would be fun to have such a person say, just once, as the Justices are deliberating: “Where does it say that?”
UPDATE: This post by Hugh Hewitt sums up the current state of the Miers debate on the right, and makes similar points in more detailed and more analytical fashion.