Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I've been reading about George Bush's latest supreme court nominee, and I've been puzzled over both his choice and the reaction to it. David Frum and others are in the dumps about it. Not knowing anything about Harriet Miers herself, but noting that Bush has a record of following his own drummer, I've been wondering if there is another angle to the story, one that is being overlooked by folks that might be a little too enamoured with their own straight ahead linear approach to problem solving. It's not that I think Bush is always brilliant; the Katrina follow up was very lame, for example. Is the Meirs nomination another slip in an administration that is getting long in the tooth, or is there more to it? Tech Central Station offers up an interesting take:
We hear conservatives sniffing that a Southern Methodist University legal education is just too non-Ivy League, adopting a characteristic trope of blue state elitists. We hear conservatives bemoaning a lack of judicial experience, and not a single law review article in the last decade as evidence of a second rate mind. These critics are playing the Democrats’ game. The GOP is not the party which idolizes Ivy League acceptability as the criterion of intellectual and mental fitness. Nor does the Supreme Court ideally consist of the nine greatest legal scholars of an era. Like any small group, it is better off being able to draw on abilities of more than one type of personality. The Houston lawyer who blogs under the name of Beldar wisely points out that practicing high level law in the real world and rising to co-managing partner of a major law firm not only demonstrates a proficient mind, it provides a necessary and valuable perspective for a Supreme Court Justice, one which has sorely been lacking. Ms. Miers has actually managed a business, a substantial one with hundreds of employees, and has had to meet a payroll and conform to tax, affirmative action, and other regulatory demands of the state. She has also been highly active in a White House during wartime, when national security considerations have been a matter of life and death. When the Supreme Court deliberates in private, I think most conservatives would agree that having such a perspective at hand is a good thing, not a bad thing.
I can't say I buy all of it, but I'll try and to keep this in mind as the newly formed court sets to work (should she pass). Oh, and for what it's worth, I don't think fillibusters are in any way healthy in a democracy. Can anybody enlighten me on why such a loophole would not be closed with legal timelimits? It seems to me that in the case of the court nominees that what fillibusters have done is create an environment in which the preferred candidates leave as small a paper trail as possible, so that the process takes place in as much darkness as possible. Swell, innit? How about questions about religion and morality be left out of it (ruled out of order) and we just deal with how the law should be interpreted? Judicial process? Discuss past cases and not hypotheticals? Are my questions simply evidence that I'm a foreigner with a weak grasp of the situation in the U.S.?

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