October 3, 2005

Harriet Miers!

President Bush is expected to announce that he has chosen Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court! [UPDATE: He has announced.] How interesting! We heard her name fairly late in the speculation. I posted about her here on September 27th, which was the first time I heard the name. So many others were considered and passed over, so many judges. But in the end, Bush has chosen a person who has never been a judge -- there will be much talk about that -- and a person who is a woman (to replace the Court's first woman) -- so we won't need to talk about that anymore.

Miers, who replaced Alberto Gonzales as White House Counsel, led the search for the new nominee, and people will thus compare her to Dick Cheney, who led the search for Bush's running mate in 2000 and ended up getting the position himself. I suppose we've got to speculate on the mind of Bush, that he ends up becoming impressed by the one he works closely with in a search. Or we might subtract some things we've thought about Cheney. Perhaps we've thought he was especially sly in deflecting all the other candidates and seizing the job for himself. That seems less likely now that it's happened twice. It says more about Bush. But let's not talk about Bush, let's talk about Miers!

I have never heard Miers speak, but an important consideration for Bush ought to have been how well the nominee could present herself at the hearings, a concern that ought to have heightened as the Roberts confirmation process played out. Roberts presented himself so brilliantly and had to stand up to an intense grilling. It won't do for the next nominee to be far from his standard. The new nominee will be compared endlessly to Roberts, and Democrats will engage heavily in rhetoric that puts a new golden glow around Roberts. The Democrats who voted for Roberts are in a position to take special advantage of the opportunity to compare the new nominee to him and to say that he was acceptable, but she does not measure up. Bush needed to find a nominee who would not empower than line of argument. Whether Miers is such a person, we will need to find out.

It's interesting that Bush waited until today, the opening day of the Court's new term, to make the announcement. I had thought that he would announce immediately upon the confirmation of John Roberts. By announcing today, we absorb the news at the same time we look at the Court's new term. As we will think about the various cases the Court faces, we will talk about what Miers might do with them. Announcing today makes us focus on the fact that O'Connor, who wants to leave, is still there, ready to sit on the cases until the new nominee is confirmed. I think that lights a fire under the Senators to do their work quickly. Let the Court have its new member so it can get on with its work.

We will see how long it takes for Senate Democrats to articulate Miers-specific reasons for slowing things down.

UPDATE: Baseball Crank is "less than thrilled" with Miers. He also notes "Bush calls the bluff of Harry Reid, who said he wanted a nominee who was "more of a trial lawyer."


Too Many Jims said...

Did anyone take Goesh's bet?

Lawpolprof said...

How underwhelming! What a let down after Roberts. This seems like much more political expedience than the bold moves that many of us expect from Bush (whether one agrees with those moves is unimportant). Yawn.

goesh said...

Bush is really a fink....remember that term?? I made 3 bets amongst several friends - I will pony up 180$ because of Fink George. What ails him for cryin' out loud!? How in the hell can you have a non-judge for the SC for pete's sake? I realize the Big Document says even Commoners can sit on the bench but this is 2005...the worse part of all this is Wifey, who is a Democrat, was not told of my bets so sure was I. I was going to take her out for a very nice meal and gloat on my wisdom. Any good divorce lawyers here?? I will suffer over this for a long time.

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't know what to say. I was hoping for a strict constructionalist. Instead we get unknown.

Maybe Bush doesn't trust anyone. Considering that he has worked with her for years, it is unlikely that Miers is a liberal in the Souter mindset. A such, she could end up as another O'Conner or someone even more conservative than Thomas/Scalia.

Glenn Howes said...

I guess we now know Bush's answer to the reporter's question "Aren't there any women as highly qualified [as Judge Roberts]?"

vbspurs said...

Ann, did you scoop Blogosphere last week? Because I just wrote on my similarly titled blogpiece on this nomination:

It's Harriet Miers!

...that you did.

I'll correct if wrong. I don't read Drudge, who might be the only other blogger out there who always has legal news stories before anyone else.

P.S.: Underwhelmed?? I'm happily surprised!


Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well, we got a woman for the "woman's" seat.