While we’re moving on, George Will and Tony Blankley address the merits of President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Will’s column is frankly oppositional: “Miers is the wrong pick.” Will writes:
It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court’s role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president’s choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.
The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Miers’ confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent — a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer’s career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.
Against Will’s “presumptive opposition,” Tony Blankley offers mature resignation: “High court politics.” Blankley writes:
Of course I would have vastly and justifiably preferred President Bush to have chosen a certain, proven, intellectually formidable legal warrior (of whom he had an abundant choice). But I have to admit on reflection that even with the dull, dutiful Dallas evangel, it is much more likely than not, that 10 years from now she will be voting quite reliably with Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and the one or two more generally conservative justices who George Bush will probably have the chance to place on the court in the remaining three and a third years of his presidency.
It could have been so much more. But it is probably enough. And in politics, when we probably get enough — we should be thankful.
Michelle Malkin, on the other hand, examines some of the points that have been made on behalf of Miers by President Bush and others: “The coffee and donuts defense.” In response to a point that President Bush made at his Rose Garden press conference yesterday, Michelle writes:
There’s no question that Washington could use a lot more personal humility. But Bush’s derision of those who “just . . . opine” is bizarre. “Opining,” after all, is what Supreme Court justices do for a living. And it’s precisely Miers’ lack of on-the-record opinions about vital matters of constitutional law that has conservatives across the country so troubled.
I wonder if the White House anticipated the negative reaction of conservative opinion leaders or the disappointment of core supporters regarding the nomination of Harriet Miers. It is hard to believe that it did, although Tony Blankley suggests that Bush himself may have disregarded it in any event. (Blankley describes Bush as “a rock and an island unto himself.” Is Blankley alluding to the old Paul Simon song “I Am a Rock”?) On the other hand, my guess is that it did not, and, if so, I wonder why not.
PAUL adds: Michelle is persuasive in arguing that, Bush’s assurances notwithstanding, the nominee is a disappointment. But we’re “moving on” to the question of whether she should nonetheless be confirmed. I have no opinion on that yet. However, I don’t think George Will’s standard is the one that should apply. The Senate, to my knowledge, has never required that Supreme Court nominees have a background in constitutional litigation or adjudication. And being a crony of the president has never been grounds for disqualification. We shouldn’t presume that, because Bush likes Miers, she is qualified. But the presumption shouldn’t run the other way either.
JOHN adds: I think Will is way off-base on this one. I don’t think Miers was one of the best nominees Bush had available, but no one asked my opinion (or Will’s). The bottom line is, the President gets to appoint Supreme Court justices. Miers is easily–very easily, in my opinion–within the range of qualified nominees that it would be improper for the Senate to reject. I think her qualifications are better, for example, than Ruth Ginsburg’s were. I think it would be very foolish for Republicans to start campaigning for Senators to refuse Miers confirmation, on the theory that we would then get someone better. If Bush gets another nomination, we probably will get someone about whom I am more enthusiastic, but in the meantime, Miers is the President’s nominee and she ought to be confirmed.