November 29, 2005

Live-blogging the Alito panel.

Readers were hoping for a podcast of the big panel we had tonight at the Law School about the Alito nomination, but I couldn't make that happen. Fortunately, Steve S was there to live-blog!
Schweber is leery of radicals....

"I kind of like radicals," says Downs.....

Sharpless makes a joke - "I'm not a lawyer!" Then he goes on a bit of a rant....

It comes to Althouse... If you read her blog, you probably know what she'll say....
Read the whole thing. Lots more at the link.

He doesn't include the thing I found most interesting. UW lawprof Linda Greene, who was Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1980s, implied that the Harriet Miers nomination was set up to fail. She said it was a "signal that something was amiss" when Miers turned in an incomplete questionnaire to the committee, given the "intellectual talent that normally flocks to a nominee." Yeah, why didn't people nail that thing for her?

Anyway, the panel was sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society -- who seem to have a very nice working relationship here -- and they did a great job. Big crowd too!


Steve S said...

The idea that she was set up to fail is an interesting one, and I noticed that both Schweber and Green picked up on it:
"He [Schweber] also brings up the idea - one that I share - that Miers was set up to fail, so that Alito would have an easier time.

Green follows up on that conspiracy theory. "I think Alito will stand more on his own."

Pooh said...

As soon as Miers was nominated, my first, vastly cynical impulse, was to say it was a tactical move meant to draw the fire that the dems held off from using on Roberts. After Harriet took one for the team, Rodgers Brown or Owen were ready to step in, and after the Dems had tattooed Miers on qualification, they would have looked like they were 'politicizing the judiciary' by attacking these vastly more qualified candidates. (Not to mention that it would have been much easier to play the sex card if they tried to block a second straight female nominee.)

Clearly GWB didn't expect the fire coming from the 'process-conservative' base, which was offended by the cronyism. (Hence the not-so-subtle winks from Dobson, etc., "She's one of us, ixnay on the estions-que...")

But that was just me being cynical.

Al Maviva said...

>>Why did people nail her

1) The Administration is clannish. Some positions were filled from the Reagan bench, but many went to acolytes from Texas, moreso in the second term. The quality of the political appointees is sketchy at best. Don't underestimate the rift this has caused b/t/w the Administration and "movement" conservatives/libertarians.

2) Miers isn't very smart. Can you see Carter Phillips or Boyden Gray putting their immense reputations on the line for a woman who can't draft a letter using proper grammar? (Opinion based on the Miers work product available at smoking gun.

3) Miers is kind of nasty to work for, and very much a "company man." Conservative attorneys practicing in D.C. (and I'm one) advocate for conservative legal interpretive methods, and accept that the text of the law sometimes takes us to places we'd rather not be. But if that's what the text does, that's what it does. Miers is very much an outcome-oriented lawyer, and has tortured people who work for her trying to get the answer her client would prefer, rather than the answer clearly dictated by the law. We stake our interpretations, and our rep, on following the law, and she doesn't particularly do it; we aren't about to support somebody who isn't with the project, and who in fact has rather nastily downed the Fed Soc and the numerous Fed Soc'ers she found working for her at the WH Counsel's Office.

4) Miers also has a rep for being indecisive and unaware of the big picture. She is known to hold up vetting on documents for days, changing happy to glad, correcting punctuation (a laughable project, based on her earlier work product), and generally dithering over whether it would be smart to commit to a position on any given issue. This reveals the opposite of the big picture, theoretical awareness that a justice should possess. It would be great to get the decisions that we conservatives desire, but a disaster to get their with justices who follow the same shoddy power grabbing ipse dixit interpretive methods followed by some of the Court's liberals.

That's why people nailed her. No more, no less. I believe the nomination was genuine - Bush thought that having Harry Reid on his side would be enough to ensure confirmation. Great idea, but if you are going to build a bridge, it helps if your foundation is secure, before you start painting the suspension cables. I think conservative attorneys - at least the good number I know - would have accepted a political liberal with legally conservative, textualist intrepretive methods, sooner than they would have accepted Harriet Miers. Many of us prefer Steven Breyer to Sandy Baby for that same reason.

Ann Althouse said...

Al: I didnt ask why did people nail her. I asked why didn't people nail the questionnaire for her.

XWL said...

Maybe she was arrogant enough to think she could do the whole thing on her own, and refused help.

It wouldn't be the first time that a public official was hoisted on their own petard due to arrogance.

(she also wouldn't be the first lawyer to be slightly over confident in their own intellect)