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Frum on Miers:

David Frum nicely sums up my concerns about Justice-designate Miers. I encourage you to read the whole thing, I'll just excerpt a bit:

So the question must be asked, as Admiral Rickover once demanded of Jimmy Carter: Why not the best?

I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or - and more importantly - that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.

I am not saying that she is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things. Not even her closest associates on the job have no good reason to believe either of these things. In other words, we are being asked by this president to take this appointment purely on trust, without any independent reason to support it. And that is not a request conservatives can safely grant.

There have just been too many instances of seeming conservatives being sent to the high court, only to succumb to the prevailing vapors up there: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter. Given that record, it is simply reckless for any conservative president, especially one backed by a 55-seat Senate majority, to take a hazard on anything other than a known quantity.

But here is what we do know: the pressures on a Supreme Court justice to shift leftward are intense. There is the negative pressure of the vicious, hostile press that legal conservatives must endure. And there are the sweet little inducements - the flattery, the invitations to conferences in Austria and Italy, the lectureships at Yale and Harvard - that come to judges who soften and crumble. Harriet Miers is a taut, nervous, anxious personality. It is impossible to me to imagine that she can endure the anger and abuse - or resist the blandishments - that transformed, say, Anthony Kennedy into the judge he is today.

Jackjohn (mail):
Here is my reply to Frum:


Do you seriously believe that Harriet Miers is not to the right of O'Connor? That she is not more conservative than O'Connor on abortion? On terrorism? That she doesn't have more real-life trial experience -- which would enable her to understand the real-life implications of her rulings? That she wouldn't defer to the Executive on foreign policy? On the War on Terror? That she isn't a better lawyer than O'Connor was when she was confirmed? That she could be pushed around by Breyer and Kennedy despite: 1. successfully running for elective office in Dallas; and 2. managing a major law firm and mutliple bar associations? Your argument is that the woman who is White House counsel cannot handle pressure better than a mediocre Arizona state court judge? Your argument is that the woman who is White House counsel cannot take criticism, even though Cass Sunstein pens a book a week criticizing her hand-picked selections for the federal judiciary? Are you stark raving mad? This woman has more experience than Brandeis had when he was confirmed, more than Rehnquist when he was confirmed, and more legal experience than you'll ever acquire in your pontificatory blogging life. Contrary to your opinion, she does have the intellectual capacity of a federal judge; after all, she clerked for one. If her wits weren't suitable, she never would have been selected to clerk or she would have been let go after revealing her incompetence. She's pro-life and pro-Executive and pro-business, and that isn't conservative enough for you? Oh, I see, she might be a follower, despite her obvious managerial skills. Well, good. I hope she follows Roberts much like Thomas "follows" Scalia. Because I know damn well she isn't David Souter in a skirt. At the very least, she's David Souter with balls. Wake up.


Now, however, I take it my 'David Souter with balls' comment was more accurate than I at first realized. She's a lesbian, apparently. Why is Bush nominating a lesbian to SCOTUS? Doesn't that conflict with his whole Federal Marriage Amendment crusade? And won't that offend the base? To continue on that point, why is Jay Sekulow supporting a lesbian for SCOTUS? Did I miss something here?
10.3.2005 11:50am
anothereugene (mail):
My goodness, that is condescending.
10.3.2005 11:52am
Jeremy (mail):
Again, where's all this lesbian talk coming from?
10.3.2005 11:55am
Jackjohn (mail):
Condescending to whom? To Frum, pontificatory bloggers in general, Miers, David Souter (whether or not he is a cross-dresser), lesbians in general, George W. Bush, Jay Sekulow, conservative Christians in general, or Clarence Thomas?
10.3.2005 11:56am
Jeremy (mail):
Jackjohn, at the risk of violating the rule against invective, you seem to be a bit kooky.

Where's your evidence that she's a homosexual? Or is it just ok to accuse all people who are single and 60 of being homosexuals?
10.3.2005 11:58am
Jackjohn (mail):
I picked it up from someone on a conservative blog who claims s/he attended a Dallas Bar Association meeting that Miers did not attend. Instead, Miers sent her "partner," who was a woman. (I'm inferring from the post that the "partner" was there to cast a proxy vote [on whether to take a stand on gay/lesbian issues]. Miers is officially on the record as opposing the association taking such a stand.)
10.3.2005 12:00pm
Paul Gowder (mail) (www):
This is the product of an utterly deranged, paranoid mind. The "vicious, hostile press?" "Flattery?" "Lectureships?" Forgive me if I don't weep for the Justice Scalia, forced to endure daily editorials and exposes by a "vicious, hostile press." Forgive me if I forget that he's never invited to lecture anywhere.
10.3.2005 12:01pm
anothereugene (mail):
I was referring not to your response but to Frum's piece, which haughtily asserts that Justice Kennedy has merely succumbed to flattery and come-ons from Harvard and Yale -- as, apparently, have O'Connor and Souter. What an irritating argument, especially when it's taken as given.
10.3.2005 12:04pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Todd,

you may want to consider that conservatives "soften" on the supreme court bench because they are smart and are being presented the best arguments from the "other side". There is hope, or danger, depending on your vantage point, that Miers will undergo a similar transformation once she is removed from her political and social environment in which she is certainly less likely to encounter well-argued "liberal" viewpoints than she will be on the bench.
10.3.2005 12:06pm
Jack John (mail):

I was referring not to your response but to Frum's piece, which haughtily asserts that Justice Kennedy has merely succumbed to flattery and come-ons from Harvard and Yale -- as, apparently, have O'Connor and Souter. What an irritating argument, especially when it's taken as given.


Then we agree!
10.3.2005 12:08pm
WB:
"Not steely enough?"

No one has, to my knowledge, ever described O'Connor, Souter or Kennedy as a "pit bull" in whatever size their shoes are.
10.3.2005 12:13pm
CatoRenasci (mail):
Jackjohn: sending her "partner" to cast her proxy vote could simply have meant another partner in her law firm. Common enough. No implications. She's unmarried at 60, which does raise questions, but there are straight women who are old maids as well. I just don't think the story you report (regardless of the substance of the vote) supports the inference you're making.
10.3.2005 12:13pm
WB:
Commenterlein has a good point. Is Frum saying that Miers is not sufficiently "close-minded," and that, after years of being exposed to liberal arguments, she might be persuaded by some of them? The nomination's only 3 hours old... chew on it a bit more before shooting your mouth off.
10.3.2005 12:15pm
Byomtov (mail):
Miers sent her "partner,"

Huh? Lawyers with partners are homosexual? Who knew?

Frum is an ass. Is it so difficult for him to imagine that someone's thinking can legitimately change over a period of years? That "vapors" and blandishments and pressure are the only conceivable reasons why a Justice might disagree with him?

I guess he utterly rejects the idea that he himself could be mistaken about anything, and so might reconsider at some point.
10.3.2005 12:16pm
Nobody Special:
I don't think she's a lesbian. That's all based on the fact that she's 60 and never married. However, Occam's Razor provides a simpler answer: she is butt ugly.

However, all this makes me happy- I have far better credentials than she does. All I need to do is find some political up and comer and ride the coattails to the Supreme Court.

I mean come on, SMU is a second-tier school, and, based on the lack of crowing about how she was top of the class or whatnot, I have to conclude that she was nowhere near it.
10.3.2005 12:28pm
Houston Lawyer:
Are the people who post here completely unaware of the venom regularly directed at conservatives on the court by the MSM? Sure, right-wingers spout their fair share of venom, but how many media outlets do they control? Frum's argument may or may not be valid, but he's hardly the first to make it. In the past 20 years or so, no member of the court has drifted appreciable to the right, but a few have drifted substantially to the left. Sorry if I don't buy the line that these folks were unaware of the arguments on the other side prior to their appointments.
10.3.2005 12:29pm
Jake:
It's hard to get through law school without being exposed to the best arguments out there for liberal positions- unless the contention here is that professors get lazy and merely preach to the choir in class instead of presenting strong arguments for their point of view.

I'm somewhat skeptical that somebody who has been a practicing lawyer and/or involved in politics for thirty plus years is going to suddenly be exposed to new rational arguments advancing the liberal point of view. New forms of peer/media pressure, on the other hand...
10.3.2005 12:30pm
chessking:
How can anyone say Miers has more legal talent than O'Connor, who graduated third in a Stanford class that included Rhenquist?

The managerial skills involved in rising to the top of the heap at a Dallas law firm don't really have a whole lot to do with the ideal SCOTUS skill set.

Y'all (well, some of you, anyway)are slandering Souter, who was and is a good judge. We could be talking more like Blackmun here.

Or then again, maybe not. The whole point is no one knows.
10.3.2005 12:34pm
Jackjohn (mail):

Cato: Jackjohn: sending her "partner" to cast her proxy vote could simply have meant another partner in her law firm.



Except that was not the objective meaning of the post I read. At all. That poster put "partner" in quotations to make a point, not to quote a third-party speaker. I should have used 'partner' instead of "partner" to convey that. This person, who claimed to have been in attendance at the meeting, intended to convey that Miers was a lesbian. All it would take is some investigative reporting. If we can find out that Douglas Ginsburg smoked pot, we can find out who Miers' 'partner' is, right?

Unfortunately, I cannot find the link, but I think it was at confirmthem.com. You can read it for yourself.
10.3.2005 12:41pm
Jackjohn (mail):
Ok, Nobody Special, you have convinced me: she IS butt-ugly. But I would apply a Hegelian synthesis and note that perhaps she is a butt-ugly lesbian.
10.3.2005 12:43pm
Commenterlein (mail):
I disagree with the notion that anyone who has been through law school or has been a practicing lawyer for long enough has heard the best arguments for different political or social positions. When I say "best arguments" I do not mean the one line or one paragraph attempts usually seen in the press, on blogs, or likely encountered in a law school class, but the kind of argument using actual data based on empirical studies or controlled experiments. Just to pick one example, how many studies on the effect of (say) school desegregation on long-run social and economic outcomes for the affected kids has your average law school grad or practicing lawyer read? I would suggest that the number is close to zero. On the supreme court, on the other hand, one is likely to be presented with a wealth of new data and new information from all sides of an argument, and a smart person is indeed likely to change his or her opinion.
10.3.2005 12:44pm
SP:
You know, the Fortas comparison doesn't even fly. Fortas was a crook - there's no need to slander Miers that way. But Fortas was also at least paper qualified, and argued in prominent cases over controversial questions before the Supreme Court. And for that reason Miers should be slandered.
10.3.2005 12:48pm
Stephen M (Ethesis):
Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated

That pretty sums up what everyone here in Dallas has to say about her.
10.3.2005 12:58pm
Therese (mail):

since when have we started assessing sc candidates on whether they are ugly. this is ridiculous.
10.3.2005 1:02pm
Cala:
The managerial skills involved in rising to the top of the heap at a Dallas law firm don't really have a whole lot to do with the ideal SCOTUS skill set.

No, but it does speak against Frum's concerns that Miers will be so, so taut and nervous that she'll give up her convictions to impress the captain of the football team erm, Harvard and Yale and the media, no? I can't imagine that rising to the top of a law firm requires wimpiness.

There's a lot of questions about Miers, but really, it's a bit of a stretch to think that she's a shrinking violet who just wants the boys to like her.
10.3.2005 1:07pm
eye5600 (mail):
The discussion of sexual orientation and relative beauty is offensive, at least to me, at least in some of the terms used above. Y'all ain't got no self-respect.

Why would Bush squander a Supreme Court nomination with a nominee who will infuriate his social conservative base? Why would he squander nomination by picking a nominee who will be helpful on a single, narrow issue like war on terror issues?

As to the drift of justices to the left, if true, then perhaps it'd due to "wisdom guided by experience" as N.W. might say.

And, SP, Miers might deserve criticism, but no one deserves slander.
10.3.2005 1:08pm
Jackjohn (mail):
Ms. Miers is very very close to Justice Nathan Hecht, the "Scalia" of the Texas Supreme Court.
10.3.2005 1:09pm
Adam (mail) (www):
She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated

Good. Make her WH Counsel. But SCOTUS?
10.3.2005 1:12pm
Perseus (mail):
"how many studies on the effect of (say) school desegregation on long-run social and economic outcomes for the affected kids has your average law school grad or practicing lawyer read? I would suggest that the number is close to zero. On the supreme court, on the other hand, one is likely to be presented with a wealth of new data and new information from all sides of an argument, and a smart person is indeed likely to change his or her opinion."

Silly me, here I thought that judges were supposed to interpret the law and the Constitution, not decide whether the outcome of a particular policy is desirable or not.

In my book, Bush is 0-2 in appointing justices like Scalia and Thomas (Thomas being my favorite justice). Bush has been a major disappointment for conservatives.
10.3.2005 1:12pm
Jackjohn (mail):
Apparently, she is NOT a lesbian, and has been/is involved with Judge Nathan Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas, who is a stalwart conservative (the "Scalia" of SCOTEX). According to reliable sources, she is an originalist with the law and an originalist with the Bible.
10.3.2005 1:16pm
SP:
I should chose my words more carefully - I don't mean slander in the legal sense. I mean criticism - and I do believe Meiers as a pick deserves a considerable amount of that.
10.3.2005 1:18pm
Jackjohn (mail):
http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/
10.3.2005 1:18pm
Jackjohn (mail):

since when have we started assessing sc candidates on whether they are ugly.


Um, I distinctly remember women talking about how "hot" John Roberts is. It's ok when women do it, but not men? How sexist, Therese!
10.3.2005 1:22pm
Jackjohn (mail):
Here was Frum's reply to my e-mail:


I hope your faith is justiifed. But understand, that's all it is: faith.
df


I suppose the word of Judge Nathan Hecht has no weight with David Frum. See: http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/
10.3.2005 1:26pm
PaulD:
As a Christian conservative, I'll make two comments: 1) Calling a SCOTUS candidate "butt ugly" is crass and ungentlemanly. I didn't like similar comments about Chelsea Clinton; and 2) Even if Miers were a homosexual, should that make a difference? She isn't running for chair of the Sunday School board. It's time for Christians to remember that apart from Christ there is no reason for a person NOT to be a homosexual.
10.3.2005 1:34pm
A. Friend:
"Ms. Miers is very very close to Justice Nathan Hecht, the "Scalia" of the Texas Supreme Court."

True. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg is personally very very close to Scalia, the "Hecht" of the U.S. Supreme Court
10.3.2005 1:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It's hard to get through law school without being exposed to the best arguments out there for liberal positions- unless the contention here is that professors get lazy and merely preach to the choir in class instead of presenting strong arguments for their point of view.


Good point, although I don't think it's so much that they "preach to the choir" as it is that students often times don't challenge the things they hear because (a) they're very little benefit into getting into an argument in the classroom (aside form honing your debate skills) and (b) students are generally at a disadvantage in arguing with someone who is more familiar with the material even if they might be making a bad argument which a less experienced student may not feel confident in challenging.
10.3.2005 2:04pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Comments on a nominee's physical appearance or speculation about their personal life say more about the person making the comments than the person they're commenting on. Hopefully the hosts will use their editorial power to delete some of the comments as they are crass, off-topic, and provide zero benefit to those of us trying to decide what to think about the nominee and her ability to do the job.
10.3.2005 2:08pm
Jackjohn (mail):
Comments about comments on a nominee's physical appearance or speculation about their personal life say more about the person making the comments than the person they're commenting on. Hopefully the hosts will use their editorial power to delete some of the comments about comments as they are crass, off-topic, and provide zero benefit to those of us trying to decide what to think about the nominee and her ability to do the job.
10.3.2005 2:22pm
BartN (mail):
As a friend of mine said earlier today; A nominee could be a leading Constitutional Scholar, written many books and articles on constitutional law, been a law professor at a top tier law school, but give him a bad hair cut and a funny beard and you are out of luck. At least his name is still associated with the approval process.
10.3.2005 3:37pm
Hoosier:
So much irrelavance! I know lots of ugly married people. And John Roberts looks a lot like his fellow Hoosier, Dan Quayle. So looks don't factor into this. And the argument that she's unmarried at a "certain age" also applies to Condi Rice, who is a VP dream candidate for many conservatives in '08.

I hope that the Supreme Court can make room for someone who is not a graduate of Harvardyalevirginiastanfordchicago School of Law. SMC isn't Cooley. And I wouldn't mind seeing a Cooley grad on SCOTUS in any event. I work at a "major research university," and I've come to the conclusion that intellect is overrated. Vastly.

So: If John Paul Stevens retires, let's have Quayle! IU Indianapolis Law School deserves a spot on the bench.

My biggest concern with Miers is that she is a Protestant. Right now there are 5 Catholics among the Supremes. Isn't it written somewhere that we RC's get a majority of seats on SCOTUS? (Or was that an emanating penumbra?) I mean, after Griswold, you gotta give us something.
10.3.2005 4:39pm
dk35 (mail):
Awwww...poor "legal conservatives"....having to "endure" the "negative pressures" of the "hostile, vicious press." Give me a break!!! From where I stand, I see legal conservatives having highjacked our country, taken us into a needless war to satisfy the hunger of the military-industrial-Haliburton complex, and feed the fire of Fundamentalist Christians in their struggle to deprive those that disagree with them from enjoying any civil rights. As a gay man, I don't see the press as having done me any favors lately. The press, out of laziness or incompetence or greed, seems to usually support the status quo, which nowadays seems to be the legal conservatives. So, I would recommend that legal conservatives consider themselves lucky, at least for now, until the electorate finally (hopefully) wakes up to the nightmare we are living in presently.
10.3.2005 5:15pm
Matthew22v21 (mail):
"It's time for Christians to remember that apart from Christ there is no reason for a person NOT to be a homosexual."

And even Christ was 33, male, and single. ;) At a time when all of that would have been *very*, um... noticable.
10.4.2005 6:44pm
Matthew22v21 (mail):
"The press, out of laziness or incompetence or greed, seems to usually support the status quo..."

The press is more like an intelligence gathering organization these days. After Bernstein &Woodward, "source journalism" became the main flavor, at which point you want your moles sources to promote as much as possible.

This explains two things: A) The extreme press loathing for a possible Perot Administration, as they had no idea who the old coot would appoint and thus journos might have to work for a living instead of having constant expense account lunches with "sources". B) In a sidelight, the constant civil war over at CIA, where the intel guys who want stability for their sources always argue for stability, and the ops guys who want to play with their toys always argue for more ops, which are inherently unstable.
10.4.2005 6:52pm