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This is Downright Embarrassing (Miers):

First, read Steve Bainbridge's devastating critique of the Miers nomination. You back? Good!

New York Times:

To persuade the right to embrace Ms. Miers's selection despite her lack of a clear record on social issues, representatives of the White House put Justice Hecht on at least one conference call with influential social conservative organizers on Monday to talk about her faith and character.

Some evangelical Protestants were heralding the possibility that one of their own would have a seat on the court after decades of complaining that their brand of Christianity met condescension and exclusion from the American establishment.

In an interview Tuesday on the televangelist Pat Robertson's "700 Club," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the Christian conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said Ms. Miers would be the first evangelical Protestant on the court since the 1930's. "So this is a big opportunity for those of us who have a conviction, that share an evangelical faith in Christianity, to see someone with our positions put on the court," Mr. Sekulow said.

(1) Is the evangelical right, who along with the rest of the conservative coalition, swore "no new Souters" (i.e., no supporting a Supreme Court nominee based on personal assurances of the nominee's constitutional views, without supporting evidence) going to allow itself to be suckered by identity politics of the basest sort? (2) Shame on the White House for engaging in such identity politics. Racial identity politics is corrosive enough. Do we need to add religious identity politics to the mix? Especially for the Supreme Court? This is supposed to be a Supreme Court nomination, not some weird American variant of the government-appointed Chief Rabbi of Israel (which is, in its own way, appalling). (3) Thus far, beyond the president's personal endorsement and her loyalty to him, all that supporters of Miers have been able to come up with is that she's an evangelical Christian and personally pro-life. Are conservatives, religious or not, supposed to support a nominee for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court solely on the basis of her personal faith? Why not just appoint Mario Cuomo? By all indications, from what I recall, when Clinton was thinking of nominating him, he was a religious Catholic who was sincerely personally opposed to abortion. Heck, "religious Christian and anti-abortion" would almost certainly have described William Brennan when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. (4) Conservatives, including religiously motivated conservatives, should be looking well-beyond Miers' views on "social issues" to her views of the Constitution. This is true even for those who don't actually care about the Constitution, but only about social issues. After all, Miers can easily be on the court for twenty or more years (her mother is 93!) Who knows what issues will arise in the time span? Eventually, her views on current social issues will be largely irrelevant, and her views on the Constitution will be what matters as future disputes arise.

I'm trying to reserve judgment here, but I don't think I can anymore. The president has appointed someone with at least the minimum qualifications to be a justice, but that's about all. He's broken his promise to appoint someone in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, and not because he's found someone equally talented but with a somewhat different conservative judicial philosophy, such as Posner or, less extreme, Kozinski. Rather, he's appointed a crony, whose record of political donations smacks of opportunism (or "pragmatism") more than anything else (a Democrat when they controlled Texas, a Republican when control shifted), and whose great moment of political "courage," according to her supporters, involved asking the ABA to stay neutral on abortion. This, apparently, makes her a regular Joan of Arc. As noted previously, she may have been appointed because she's likely to uphold Executive power, which will be a great gift to President Hillary Clinton, whose ascension is becoming more and more likely due to the Bush Administration's incompetence.

And, to top it all off,the president sends his minions to drum up support based on her personal religious philosophy. I'm sure Miers' didn't ask the White House to trumpet her religious views, and, given her reported modesty and shyness, it's entirely possible that she's mortified. So without placing any blame on Ms. Miers, whose only done what she's been asked, and save perhaps the Powell United Nations speech, and the blatant lies about the cost of the Medicare drug law, this has to be the most embarrassing episode of the entire Bush Administration.

CrazyTrain (mail):
The Powell Speech led to thousands of dead Americans. This appointment may lead to David Bernstein being upset. Very comparable there dude. Bush has been a disaster for a long time. Glad you guys finally noticed —- but a lot less people would be dead right now had you not been playing pretend and worshipping your little boy wonder for the last five years. The real embarassment are the 50.5 percent of registered voters who voted for this loser (and yes he is a "loser" as he lost the first election fair and square).
10.5.2005 12:51am
Tom R (mail):
I don't think evangelical Protestants play identity politics quite as much as other religious groups do. First, because theirs is the "background" of US society; apart from the last 2-3 decades in the political and judicial sphere, they have never felt like the outsiders in America. Being "the first evangelical Protestant since 1930" is not the same as being "the first Catholic/ Mormon/ Jewish President ever, in 229 years".

Secondly, because EP-ism by its own terms tends to stress more an individualistic conversion experience, usually as an adult (or at least teenager), independent of -- often, even in opposition to -- one's initial upbringing. Part of the EP narrative is to have grown up as a wastrel (Dubya) -- or, worse still, an Episcopalian! (-; -- before you found Jesus at age 25 or 30. Remember Billy Graham's "God has no grandchildren".

Third, following closely from the second, EPs define themselves as a group by shared assent to particular theological doctrines (the six solas, the Fundamentals, "T.U.L.I.P") -- not by membership from birth in either an ethnic group or in a denomination. You can be a "lapsed Catholic" or "non-practising Jew", but if you espouse what James Dobson and Jerry Falwell persuade their followers is heresy, you're no longer any kind of Evangelical at all. Heresy lurks around every corner; wolves hide in sheep's clothing; the only way to test a true believer is to test what doctrines they personally assent to. Evangelicals tend to be suspicious of denominations and pay denominational membership, as such, little heed. I would doubt that very few conservative Southern Baptists voted for Clinton and Gore because those two were nominal SBs.

IOW, if Harriet Miers is seen as (like many GOP/ conservative women in their 50s and older who've climbed the career ladder) as pro-abortion, or even insufficiently anti-Roe, her church membership won't help her one bit with conservative EPs. They would prefer conservative Catholics (Scalia, Jeb) or Mormons (Romney, Hatch) over apostate pseudo-members of their own church.
10.5.2005 12:54am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Is it possible these days to nominate a Justice who has ever taken a position on any issue of any controversy?

If not, we had better resign ourselves to nebbishes, or at least those who, if they have any intellect, have been careful to keep it hidden.
10.5.2005 1:04am
David Maquera (mail) (www):
It is irrelevant whether Harriet Miers ia a born again evangelical protestant, or roman catholic, or jew, or seventh day adventist, or mormon, or pagan. What is relevant is whether she has the requisite command of constitutional law like Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas clearly possess. Unfortunately, it appears that Miers is no John Roberts or Mike McConnell, which is a shame because it may be a long time before another Republican President has a Republican Senate to confirm conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
10.5.2005 1:13am
SimonD (www):
I agree. I wrote here and here adding more detail to why the presumptoin of the available evidence should lead originalists who voted for Bush based on his promise of a Scalia or Thomas should demand the borking of this nominee.

In my view, the President has marginalized himself with a series of blunders and sheer bad luck (this President is going to go down in history as one of the most unfairly treated Presidents in history, because he really has done a lot of things right - but this isn't one of them), and the only question for the conservative movement now is: do we go down with the ship, or do we get in the lifeboats and start rowing away? I think the latter. Given the view (mistaken in my view) of the constitution evinced by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, a nominee who wins their instant approval is prima facie suspect, even were there not additional concerns, as I noted in the comments linked above. Miers should face tough questions, and unless she can prove beyond any doubt that she is a process-oriented originalist and a strict constructionist, she should be borked. I don't think that's a blunder for the conservative movement, I think it's the only way to save the situation.
10.5.2005 1:14am
SimonD (www):
Is it possible these days to nominate a Justice who has ever taken a position on any issue of any controversy?
My proposal on how to fix the confirmation process, written ad hoc in reaction to the Roberts nomination fiasco, can be found here.
10.5.2005 1:17am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
The joke may well be on Robertson and the rest of evangelical whores. I wonder if Miers--following in the path blazed by Madeline Albright, John Kerry and John Silber (Boston University ex-chancelor)--will discover her Jewish roots upon FBI background investigation. Who knows what else the background check might discover. Of course, with the Bush appointements, you never know if the background check actually is done--just recall Bernie Kerik. And loyalty and cronyism trumps all else--think John "Diplomat" Bolton.

Hey, if nothing else, this will be a fun nomination. Of course, if these guys are such Federalists, they'd read the Federalist Papers (oh, I forgot--Bush does not read books) and recognize that "advice and consent" was specifically included to weed out cronies. On the other hand, most Republicans and a number of Democrats have already abrogated their constitutional duty and claimed, "What the President wants, the President gets!" That's not advice and concent--it's roll over and play dead! Their challengers should use this in the next election cycle to kick out most incumbents in the Senate.
10.5.2005 1:17am
Tom952 (mail):
this has to be the most embarrassing episode of the entire Bush Administration.

Most embarrassing episode yet. Some records are made to be broken.
10.5.2005 1:22am
Walt H:
After reading Bainbridge, go read Beldar. http://beldar.blogs.com/beldarblog/
10.5.2005 1:24am
Steve:
What bothers me is that there is not supposed to be a religious test for public office, and Republicans scream bloody murder every time a Democrat so much as mentions a nominee's religion (this came up at the Pryor hearings).

So it's strange, in this context, to hear conservatives urging each other to support the Miers nomination by citing her religion. How is it that a specific religion can be a positive, but never a negative?

It's doubly embarassing to hear this kind of talk from people who scorn the notion of the SC as a "super-legislature." Anyone who supports Miers because of her religion is acting based on results rather than on judicial philosophy, and they have no room to complain if a future President nominates judges solely to produce the outcomes he (or she) desires.
10.5.2005 3:20am
Medis:
Exactly, Steve. And once you starting using a nominee's religion as a positive, it won't stay just a positive as political fortunes shift over time.

But my sense is that at least a good number of conservatives share these thoughts, and are profoundly opposed to supporting Miers on such grounds. As in so many other areas, this represents a battle between very different notions of what it means to be a conservative.
10.5.2005 8:46am
Taimyoboi:
"...all that supporters of Miers have been able to come up with is that she's an evangelical Christian and personally pro-life."

Without regard to the merits of this situation, I would offer that you down-play the extent to which someone's religious convictions and causes they identify with can serve as a signal for their principles/beliefs.
10.5.2005 10:31am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Without regard to the merits of this situation, I would offer that you down-play the extent to which someone's religious convictions and causes they identify with can serve as a signal for their principles/beliefs.


I think it's simpler than that. Hugh Hewitt (one of Meiers' biggest boosters) has talked about her faith on his show for the last couple of days and he has specifically and consistently decried those who think that's it's a plus because she'll "rule according to the bible." Hugh is both an evangelical and concerned more about process and judicial philosophy than he is in just getting the "right outcome."

Where Hugh and other evangelicals see it as a plus is because they see it and the works she's done in her Church as a sign that she's an honest person who if asked by the President she's known for the last 20-30 years about whether she's an "originalist" or "strict constructionist" is either going to say "yes" if she is or "no Mr. President, I'm not."
10.5.2005 1:18pm
DrewSil (mail):

So without placing any blame on Ms. Miers, whose only done what she's been asked

She most assuredly deserves blame for her role in the appointment. She lead the search commitee for the nomination and did an exceedingly poor job. Either her name should have been ruled out of consideration, or she should have stepped down. Her failure to do this is evidence that she does not have the sense of decorum and impartiality necessary in a supreme court justice.
10.5.2005 2:06pm
Shelby (mail):
save perhaps the Powell United Nations speech, and the blatant lies about the cost of the Medicare drug law

You forgot the most important one: signing McCain-Feingold into law.
10.5.2005 3:23pm
Tom Hanna (www):
It's odd after the complaints that Dick Durbin and others were subjecting John Roberts to a religious test that the Bush administration would choose the next Justice based on a religious test.
10.6.2005 2:15am
Smitty (www):

Either her name should have been ruled out of consideration, or she should have stepped down.


I guess we should be glad that Dick Cheney wasn't asked to lead the search for the next Justice, huh?
10.6.2005 1:13pm