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