Harriet Miers withdrew her candidacy for the Supreme Court this morning. President Bush issued this statement:
Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers’ decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character, and her conservative judicial philosophy. Throughout her career, she has gained the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has earned a reputation for fairness and total integrity. She has been a leader and a pioneer in the American legal profession. She has worked in important positions in state and local government and in the bar. And for the last five years, she has served with distinction and honor in critical positions in the Executive Branch.
I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House disclosures that would undermine a Presidents ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers’ decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her. I am grateful for Harriet Miers’ friendship and devotion to our country. And I am honored that she will continue to serve our Nation as White House Counsel. My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner.
UPDATE: Some random thoughts:
I feel sorry for Miers; she was caught in a crossfire, and never really had a chance to speak for herself. But what we’ve seen so far may be only a tune-up for what awaits the next nominee.
A lot of conservative pundits are feeling triumphant today, but there are millions of rank and file Republicans who supported the Miers nomination, many of whom–including many dyed in the wool conservatives–believed, rightly or wrongly, that the criticism of Miers from the right was arrogant and elitist. Miers was a poor choice for a number of reasons, not least because her nomination needlessly divided the party.
There are lots of sighs of relief this morning, and understandably so; but they’re premature, I think. Who knows who the next nominee might be? The beginning of the Miers problem was that President Bush committed to naming a woman before he had a woman lined up for the job. We know that he chose Miers only after “several” women turned him down. We don’t know how many said no, or who they were; so at this point, no one knows who is left in the “woman” pool. I really hope that at this point, Bush forgets about diversity and nominates the best person for the job. But is there any reason to assume that he will do so?
PAUL adds: Miers deserves great credit for pulling out and preventing the train wreck. If Bush will nominate a high quality conservative, and if Senate Republicans will push that nominee through, then this will prove to be, on balance, a great news week regardless of what happens on Friday. Scandals, real and imagined, come and go; the Supreme Court is for keeps.
I too hope that Bush will forget about diversity and nominate the best person for the job. I’m not confident that he will forget about diversity, but I think he’ll be much more careful about which woman or minority candidate he taps. I’ve always been skeptical about claims that Bush selected Miers because other women turned down the job. I think he selected Miers because he wanted to based on their close relationship and his confidence in her. So color me cautiously optimistic about the replacement pick.
JOHN adds: A reporter told me this morning that the White House is saying, on background, that the new nominee will be named very, very soon.