With twenty-four hours to reflect on the Harriet Miers nomination, I must say that I am still underwhelmed. I’ve been following up with people and tying up loose ends. Here’s the basic information.
First, I have no doubt that Harriet Miers would vote as a Scalia or Thomas — at least so long as Bush remained in office. Miers is deeply loyal to Bush and understands that Bush needs social conservative support to survive. She will do what she can to ensure that. Loyalty runs both ways between Miers and Bush. In addition to the loyalty, Miers did take a role in fighting the ABA abortion position and has contributed money to pro-life causes in the past. Every indication is that Miers will be right on the key issue for social conservatives — life.
Nonetheless, though I may be accused of legal snobbery, I am really struck by Miers’ lack of qualifications. Her law practice focused on corporations, not constitutional law. She clerked for a judge, but just a federal district court judge. To her credit, however, she does have tremendous life experience.
On the Senate side, I’m hearing that some Republican Senators are less than pleased. I spoke to one of them who says he would not be surprised if the ABA comes back with a less than stellar rating. The irony would be that Miers argued against the President abandoning the ABA reviews.
Several Senate aides I spoke to have said their particular bosses are livid over the nomination. “There were better candidates with better qualifications,” said one. Another feared that the Democrats and some Republicans on the Judiciary Committee would seek to undermine Miers’ credibility through their questioning. “She has no foundation that we know of in constitutional law. Her credibility will be nitpicked apart and that will hurt the President and us,” said a Republican Judiciary Committee staffer.
In addition to concerns within the Republican caucus, some think that the Democrats will, despite their initial warm statements, make a case that Miers is unfit in an effort to undermine the President. “He [the President] is weak. There is no other explanation. The Democrats can smell blood in the water and they are going to attack,” says one. A growing fear is that the Democrats will try to make the case that this is another example of cronyism. The Miers pick gives the Democrats an opportunity to connect dots between Michael Brown, Julie Myers, Harriet Miers, and President.
The White House is on a campaign to prove Miers is not only an “originalist,” but also qualified. For now it seems that will be a very tough case to make.