Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I've been feeling angry at a lot of the criticism of the Miers nomination, including the most recent George Will column. Sure, I expect Will to be usually arrogant and wrongheaded with the occasional zinger when he gets it right and puts it well. Even Cal Thomas can't be wrong 100% of the time. Before I go on to explain what I don't like about the criticism, here's a bit Will gets right:

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."

I had made a related point in the comments at profsblog earlier today, that maybe
I'll dig up and include here later.

OK, part of what I find offensive in the attacks on Miers is this assumption that a Supreme Court justice has to be a philosopher-queen and a rocket scientist.
I think the court could be improved by an extra seat for a random housewife, or somebody who's been in jail. Actually Miers is pretty close to a rocket scientist; she has a degree in math. My ex, before law school, started out in rocket science and switched to a double major in math and religious studies.
The constitution is this country's instruction manual. If it is written in a dead language that can only be deciphered by handful of high priests, we all lose. We need someone on the court who can look at a set of facts, check the manual, and see what it says. Someone who can write one page opinions in clear English. We could use a few less Harvard grads.
By these standards, Miers is too qualified, not unqualified. She has more executive branch experience than any justice since William Howard Taft. She's been a fixer for the rich and powerful from Microsoft to Disney. She's been Bush's main handler, carefully screening what he sees and what he doesn't see. Eisenhower had a guy like that; Kennedy made sure he personally was in charge, when he wasn't in the pool screwing interns. Is she a crook? We don't know. Sometimes it takes years for the truth to come out about these sorts of things. Will she use her position on the court to help Bush, or future members of the Bush dynasty, to abuse power? We don't know.
Nixon appointed Rehnquist. In US v Nixon, Rehnquist voted with the other 8 that Nixon had to turn over the tapes, at which point he resigned. I know nothing about Miers to suggest she is corrupt and won't be an independent and scrupulous member of the court. She probably doesn't share my views on limited government. But in the absense of any smoking gun like the torture memos, I for one welcome our new Supreme overlords.

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