Monday, October 03, 2005

New SCOTUS Pick - a Scalia or a Souter?

It's official: as of 0800 EST, President Bush has chosen Harriet E. Miers, White House Counsel, to replace retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the US Supreme Court. Apparently Miers was suggested by and has support from both sides of the aisle.

As a Bush supporter, I must say that I am thoroughly unimpressed with his latest pick. It seems that he has found his 'consensus nominee' and has found her deep inside the ranks of the ranks of the White House insiders. She has no judicial experience and no significant paper trail - which, on the one hand, deprives the Dems of ammunition for attacks on her record, but on the other hand strips the GOP base of any assurance that this woman won't turn out to be a David Souter. Is it too much to ask, from a President who has gotten so much support from his base in times of intense political pressure, that a solid, proven conservative/textualist jurist be selected?

I know it's too early in the game to be criticizing this woman, and she may very well turn out to be a highly impressive nominee (see Chief Justice Roberts). Judgment must be reserved until we find out more about her. I hope we're all pleasantly surprised, but mostly, I wish we didn't have to hope.


J. Li said...

Okay, I'll hold my fire (mostly).

I'll just throw this in. Mr. Goldstein over at Scotusblog thinks--he does say it's a very initial gut instinct--that she won't be confirmed. I disagree. The tantalizing thought that Ms. Miers is a Souter will keep the filibuster at bay. So the only way she would be defeated is if a large enough coalition of social conservatives opposes her. Are you kidding me? One, how many real social conservatives are in the Senate? Two, how many of them have backbones? People like jrh and myself may be furious (jrh -- I don't know if you're actually "furious," hence the "may") over this, but our "representatives" in the Senate will defer to the President, which, to be un-hypocritical given my earlier blog dialogue with Charles, is the right thing to do, and more importantly, is what they will do.

So she will be confirmed. That's my own somewhat reasoned gut instinct.

D said...

First, what exactly is a "textualist"? I thought we all agreed (including Scalia) that there's not such thing -- particularly after taking ConLaw II.

Second, what say you Federalists about the fact that she told David Frum ("axis of evil" coiner) "that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met"? Anyone care to defend that assessment of W?

paleocon said...

Of course, it's too much to ask. Dubya hasn't been a conservative since he was elected in 2000. He pretended to be one during the campaign. The only arguably conservative things he's done are his tax cuts. However, I would argue that they weren't conservative since they were not accompanied by corresponding spending cuts.

This is why I'm so depressed about this country. Most people are Republicans before conservatives or Democrats before liberals. In this bizarro world, liberals hate a president that is arguably more liberal than Clinton, while "conservatives" defend reflexively arguably the most liberal president since LBJ.

Charles Iragui said...

As an out-on-a-limb Bush supporter, here's a theory:

1) Miers is giving Dems what they want: Sandra Day O'Connor redux. This should take the nomination out of contention. And Reps are so demoralized that it will be difficult to generate credibility that she's a right-wing wacko.

2) Bush knows Miers very well and knows that she will be a Scalia / Thomas puppy: perfect stealth.

3) There is more to come. Bush is in office for 3+ years: the powder is dry for the NEXT nominations...

Many in recent years have suggested that the court could use a non-judge. They have gotten what they asked for.

PS: or this is a cant-lose proposition? Geoff's "sacrificial lamb," a totally dispensable nominee?

J. Li said...

I guess...

Then why have Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid been wetting themselves all day? Are they really that stupid not to see through Bush's Rovian strategery [sic]? I mean I'm virtually wetting myself over the possibility that she turns out to be a Scalia / Thomas puppy, and that would be an even surer way to say bye-bye to Roe v. Wade than the most conservative ideology--based on the whole shebang of the intellectual foundations of federalism and textualism--she might hold. So let's hope Chuck and Harry really are so naive as to fear the latter more than the former.

As long as Bush isn't doing this as a result of Katrina, Tom Delay, Bill Frist, and Bill Bennett. After all, what has changed between replacing O'Connor with Roberts in July and replacing her with Miers less than three months later? If he's letting those short-term political troubles get in the way of clearly more important long-term effects, then I'm sorry I ever supported him. I would've preferred John Kerry; hell I would've preferred Geena Davis.

Sarah Kohrs said...

I must say I have to agree with Charles on this one. Miers is an SMU grad that has been working for the repubs for years, with some pro-life leanings, and no contentious history. I also think it's very smart of Bush to play to the Senators that expressed a desire to have a non-judge be appointed. The inability of both Republicans and Demos to articulate any basis for objection could serve to make confirmation run smoothly, and my gut says we'll be pleased with what we get. Also, there's nothing smarter than making your opponents think you're dumb, and I have had the thought that Roberts was intended to replace Rehnquist from the very beginning. I guess only time will tell for sure.

paleocon said...

Miers was also a Democrat until recently. Face it, she's one of Bush's cronies and that's the primary reason she got the job.

Also, what is all this talk about needing a "smooth confirmation"? Why? The Republicans control the Senate. It's likely they could could get enough votes for cloture to bust a filibuster on any nominee or they could use the nuclear option. You cannot spin this any other way but as a betrayal to every conservative that begrudgingly voted for Bush because of the Court.