Monday, October 03, 2005

Reid and Miers

One last Miers post for the day, then I'm done until we actually know something. On reviewing what Harry Reid said in a conference call, I have to wonder if Bush didn't get played. Sure, he bargained away his own right to cry "crony," but no one else did, and it appears that he drew the Cheney comparison and the cronyism arguments in his discussion with Bush. Is it possible that Miers is a tarbaby? Is Reid that smart? Is Bush that dumb?

As it now stands, Democrats could probably support her unanimously and she'd still never get past a Republican filibuster. I happen to think she won't get unanimous support (that is, I don't think she'll get votes from every Democrat, it's possible that she will pass the Senate without any "no" votes but with abstentions). Even so, the dynamic is odd. I feel like I ought to like anyone that the conservative hivemind dislikes this intensely, but I simply don't. I don't care that she gave money to failed Democratic campaigns a million years ago; propping up a loser can be a great way to weaken the eventual winner.

Here are the criteria I have for tepidly supporting a nominee (i.e., not actively working against).
  1. competence
  2. experience
  3. philosophical consistency
  4. philosophical coherence
The latter two we can lump into a category of "judicial temperament." I don't think time on a city council or a lottery commission counts as useful experience, and there are too many lawyers for simply practicing law to count as anything meaningful.

Without seeing how she serves when her client is the law itself, philosophy and temperament are impossible to assess. Hearings won't bring that out, because there's no disincentive to lie. If there were, Clarence Thomas would have a perjury conviction (scroll down to the paragraph beginning "During his hearings…"), and Chief Justice Roberts might be sweating in his new robes.

How can we determine the adequacy, let alone excellence, of someone's judicial philosophy unless they've served on the bench, or at least developed a record of legal scholarship?

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