Monday, October 24, 2005

Not Wild About Harry

The Resident's nomination of his long time friend and personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, has certainly kicked up an unusual dust storm in the Senate and in the country at large. The list of potential nominees was fairly short, but it is doubtful that her name would have appeared even on an initial 'long list' of those to be considered. In other words, her nomination was a shocking surprise to just about everyone in the nation.

The nature of the response to her nomination has been equally surprising, as noted in a NY Times article today, and not just because Ms. Miers has no judicial experience.

On Oct. 22, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon nominated to the Supreme Court a corporate lawyer and former bar association president with no judicial experience. On Dec. 6, his choice, Lewis F. Powell Jr., was confirmed with fanfare by a vote of 89 to 1.

Harriet E. Miers, President Bush's nominee to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, brings a similar résumé, along with five years in the White House and one year as its counsel. But in just three weeks, her nomination has provoked a range of opposition that some scholars say may have no modern precedent.

The problem with Ms. Miers' nomination is that nobody but George W. Bush knows very much about her. The Religious Reich fears that she won't be disposed to support their legal agenda, although several leaders from that wing have been called into the White House for reassurance. Liberals feel that just her proximity to the Resident makes her suspect. Conservatives, no doubt miffed by being left out of the loop in the selection process, already are flinching at the cronyism charges which so far have just been whispered, but which no doubt will be aired fully soon. The fact that reports have emerged that the White House has retained people to give her a "crash course" in Constitutional law hasn't assuaged Republican fears.

It is highly unlikely that the administration will provide any information about Ms. Miers' work in the White House. The White House does not give that information out on anybody, as we have learned from the very start of this highly secretive regime. That means that the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the full Senate will have to make its decision based on very little information.

What they will know going in is that she served George W. Bush as attorney during his campaigns for Governor of Texas and President of the United States as his legal counsel, that she was President of the Texas State Bar, and that she was a managing partner for a large law firm (which, during and after her management, has paid millions of dollars in fines for ethical lapses and legal malpractice), and that she has served Mr. Bush as his counsel in the White House.

With elections coming up next year, Republicans cannot be happy with this nomination, something which is noted in the NY Times article.

Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, said that the reaction was like "a triple root canal" but added: "It really isn't Harriet in my mind. It is the president." Mr. Simpson blamed a sense of weakness around the White House because of concerns about the C.I.A. leak investigation, the war in Iraq and the handling of the recent hurricanes. "It is like a huge raptor seeing a rabbit running on only three legs," he said.

Poor Harry has a very rough road ahead of her.

As well she should.


Blogger Elmo said...

She was also the Chair of the Texas Lottery Commission. This was her excuse for resigning...

"I believe it will be best if the Lottery has an experienced commissioner on board..."

1:49 PM  

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