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Texas Judges on Miers (Sort Of):
President Bush met with six former Texas state court judges today about the Miers nomination. Reports from last week predicted that the judges would detail the cases that Miers had argued before them, and explain why she did a good job and why they thought she was qualified for the Supreme Court. If today's press event is all that has been planned, however, it looks like we're going to be left disappointed: The entire event was about one minute long, and most of that time was taken by the President (video and transcript here).

 The only statement other than Bush's was by John Hill, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in the 1980s. Hill is a personal friend of Miers who was appointed by Bush to the Texas Lottery Commission in 1997. Here is Hill's statement in its entirety:
"Mr. President, we just all want to thank you for this nomination. We're excited about it, and we're here to try to let the people of America know what we all know, that she is an absolutely fantastic person and a great lawyer and will make a great judge."
  Does anyone know if we're going to hear more from these judges? That seems like a rather short quote for such a long trip.

  I hunted around Google News for additional statements, and found another news report that offers two more quotes. In it, Hill adds "I'd trust her with my wife and with my life." Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch says, "I think this is an excellent choice by the president of the United States and I think when people get to know her and understand her like we do, they'll find her an excellent choice. And she'll be a legend on that court before her career is finished." But I haven't been able to find anything else.
Roach (mail) (www):
How many logical and rhetorical fallacies will we see from the Bush team before this is over. We've now seen:

ad hominems (sexism and elitism charges)

testimonials (empty statements from judges and coworkers)

glittering generalities (e.g., she's a good bowler; she's the greatest; she's a great worker; I'd trust my wife with her)

appeals to authority (e.g., Bush likes her; Dobson likes her; God likes her)

sentimental appeals (e.g., she's worked hard; she's faced dsicrimination)

scare tactics (Bush will go down in flames; terrorism will happen)

threats (Bush will retaliate against his critics).

Have I left any out?
10.17.2005 5:51pm
jACKJOHN (mail):
Outright pandering. "She will strike down Roe, you fanatical heathens, now rejoice and do your backwoods jig!"
10.17.2005 5:53pm
Shelby (mail):
And she'll be a legend on that court before her career is finished

Well, yeah, but so was Abe Fortas.
10.17.2005 6:06pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
"I'd trust her with my wife and with my life."

All he's saying is that she's not a lesbian. Big deal!

Anyone out there who would trust W with his life?
10.17.2005 6:11pm
adam (mail):
I don't believe Miers ever actually argued a case before the Texas Supreme Court.
10.17.2005 6:19pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
Judge Hill's statement is just as pandering as Harriet's letters to Governor Bush about being the "greatest" Governor, etc. Since when did being a sycophant become a judicial trait???
10.17.2005 6:39pm
Scott Moss (mail) (www):
Personally, I think sycophancy always was key to getting a high appointment -- it's just that we've come to expect better. I have a similar response to the fact that there are more "scandals" now: there always corruption; we've only in the past few decades decided that Presidents are legally accountable for their actions. It's like one of my favorite economic articles (by Larry Ruff in 1970) re pollution: "Pollution isn't new -- there always was sewage, waste from production, etc. -- the problem of pollution is what's new: it only became a problem when the tchnology and will arrived to do something about it...."
10.17.2005 6:49pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
I'd trust W before I'd trust Kerry.

But I still think the nomination of Miers is cronyism and an attempt by W to get a pushover on the Court. The fact that W's the only one with an inside track on Miers' "judicial philosophy" should make us all worry (does "sure, whatever you say, Mr. President. . . oh, and by the way, you're the greatest" count as a judicial philosophy?). I guess Scalia's dissent in the Hamdi case made W nix his plan to put more Justices like Nino on the Court. Thought I saw something like this coming when he signed the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Impairment and Incumbency Protection Act, but the Roberts appointment was a pleasant surprise. Makes me more convinced that W wouldn't know a judicial philosophy if one bit him, and he wouldn't care much in any case. It's small consolation that Kerry would've been much worse.
10.17.2005 6:58pm
Gordon (mail):

And she'll be a legend on that court before her career is finished.


I can think of other "legends" in addition to Abe Fortas. Justice McReynolds comes to mind. He has certainly become a legend - as the worst Supreme Court Justice ever (at least among the longer-tenured ones) - although I'm sure the "Constitution in Exile" chimerical gang of academics and stealth judges would want to revisit the damning verdict of history!

Maybe the good Texas judge is paying Harriet Miers a good old fashioned "left-handed compliment."
10.17.2005 7:04pm
TheAbsentMindedOne (www):
I may be able to help. I posted several items on my new blog. Included is my take on her four - yes four - Texas appellate cases. All were at the intermediate court of appeals. None were heard by the Texas Supreme Court. All involved other counsel representing her client. I do not know if she presented any oral argument. I do not know if she wrote any brief. She did make the list of attorneys, and she may have done everything for her clients, or almost nothing. I look forward to seeing your reaction to her cases.

If the White House said the Texas Supreme Court Justices would recount her sucessful oral arguments in the Texas Supreme Court, one can only be in awe of the public relations operation behind this nomination.

In other words, this is a transcript of all of her oral arguments in the Texas Supreme Court:

(begin)


(end)


Maybe the Justices did tell all there was to tell about them.

Is this snarky? Maybe so. It is hard to be precise and correct without being a bit harsh.

It was not Harriet Miers who said she argued in the Texas Supreme Court. The article you linked does not say what she did. The AP writter assumes that she did something important and the justices know about it. I think the White House press office thought so too.

Senator Cornyn was also on the Texas Supreme Court. Hill, Phillips, and Enoch were on the court. They knew Miers socially and from Bar and Court functions. That is what they know. They are doing what they can for the Texan who is nominated to the court. And, some of them practice law, and do not want to offend people who matter to their practice.

Yes, they are doing as much as they can do, and saying as much as they can say.

Actually, I am impressed. They have to say nice things and be supportive, but they avoided saying too much. A sound bite. Stop. The best they can do.

Links to the cases are at my blog. There are Federal cases too. Do not expect too much.

The White House may have made a mistake by puffing her history. It is sometimes better to understate and have people pleasantly surprised. They did not leave much for a pleasant surprise.

But, she was involved in the selection process. Do we feel sorry for her? I am not sure how to feel about her being in this position. She has been hung out to dry.
10.17.2005 7:15pm
Observer:
although I'm sure the "Constitution in Exile" chimerical gang of academics and stealth judges would want to revisit the damning verdict of history!

I'm sure there's another thread in which you can exercise your hobbyhorses. McReynolds was a bad judge (and by most accounts a bad man) who was pro-federalism and pro-economic liberties. Sutherland was an impressive and respected judge who was pro-federalism and pro-economic liberties.

Your point?
10.17.2005 7:19pm
Gordon (mail):

Your point?


Just horsing around. The key is the word "chimerical."

http://www.m-w.com/
10.17.2005 7:29pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Oooh, actual facts! Thanks, Absent-Minded One!
10.17.2005 7:42pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Judge Hill's statement is just as pandering as Harriet's letters to Governor Bush about being the "greatest" Governor, etc. Since when did being a sycophant become a judicial trait???

I think it's a mandatory part of the nomination process. A potential judge must know what to kiss and when.
10.17.2005 7:58pm
SimonD (www):
I've reached the conclusion that, were Bush to declare on January 18th 2009 that he was assuming emergency powers and would not be leaving office at such a critical juncture of the war on terror, there is a small cadre of Republicans who would be perfectly fine with it. Beldar would write thoughtful but ultimately facile prose pointing out why it wasn't so terrible, while Hugh Hewitt would accuse anyone who didn't support the President of supporting Osama. James Dobson would point out that President Bush has made many lifetime appointments, so we should trust him on this one also, and Richard Land would note that no-one is questioning the sincerity of President Bush's faith in Christ, and if we must have a king-for-life, he should be an evangelical.

The Democratic party will put out effusive press releases stating the need for unity in such difficult times, which will be a thinly-veiled relief that as long as Bush is in the White House, President-elect Sam Brownback isn't, and the Supreme Court, on the other hand, will have nothing to say about the matter. Why? A Divided court will uphold Bush's action, with Justices Thomas and Miers writing about the need for broad deference to the executive to fight terror. Justice Breyer will write a concurrence examing international precedents and concluding that many countries are ruled by dictators with life terms, and that therefore the requirements of article II should be read to comport with the evolving requirements of the security of a free people. Justice Ginsburg will continue with her established practise, which is to say, a short concurrence saying "Yeah, what Souter said!" Our fearless leader - Chief Justice The Sphinx - will recuse himself to concentrate on being mysterious.

Where's our hero in all this? Why, he and Justice Stevens - along with the editorial board of National Review have been locked up in the Tower of New London (formerly the residence of S. Kelo) "for their own protection"!

Go back to sleep America! You are free! Trust the President!
10.17.2005 8:11pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I'd doubt, in any event, that the good Justices would remember a lot about her arguments. From what I understand, she didn't handle a large number of appeals, and (at least here) most state appeals stop in the court of appeals. It may be hard to recall the merits of, say, 2,3 or even 6 arguments over a period of decades. Particularly since over those decades the court's membership has probably changed, so sitting (or even living) justices may not have heard any arguments made in the 1970s or 1980s.

I suspect whoever touted the Justices as being able to appraise her specific performances didn't know much about the legal process. I love appellate work, but in 20 yrs of private practice have gotten to the State supremes twice and the US Supremes once, and know plenty of busy civil attorneys who have been to the state supremes 1-2x in their careers.
10.17.2005 8:23pm
42USC1983 (mail):
Did she ever argue before the Tex. Sct.? Has anyone uncovered her appellate briefs or oral argument transcripts? I assume an associate wrote the briefs in many of the more recent cases, but she likely wrote some of the arguments. At the least, transcripts of her oral arguments might be revealing. How does she respond to questioning? Is she really as quick on her feet as everyone says? Inquiring minds want to know.
10.17.2005 8:46pm
Dan Levine (mail):
Did this Dog and Pony Show with the Texas Justices strike anyone as unethical? It certainly would be unethical for federal judges to endorse a nominee, wouldn't it? And particularly given the fact the SCOTUS has direct review of state court decisions, isn't there a conflict of interests suggested here? "We in Texas are mighty glad that you nominated Harriet. . . ."
10.17.2005 9:29pm
Al Maviva (mail):
As Andy Card noted, she's a good bowler... she gets really good action on the pins for her size.

That settles it, as far as I'm concerned.

If she can bowl, and she is really crazy about God too, then she's fit to sit on the Supreme Court. Because, as the man said, "nobody focks wid dee Jeezus." You see, all you over achievers have misinterpreted the central message of her career. She's not a lawyer slacker, it's just that she's been really busy takin' it easy for all us sinners.
10.17.2005 10:30pm
Yankee_Mark:
Of course all those Texas judges were not willing to say anything while they were at the White House ... they all figure to be nominated to Circuit Courts in the remaining years of the Bush Cronyism Administration.

Judge John Smith - I predict that she will vote on EVERY case argued before her.

Judge Joe Jones - She is an expert in both kinds of law, Country AND Western!

Judge Sam Johnson - Harriet Who? Oh yeah, We know for sure that she's a firm supporter in the 18th Amendment
10.18.2005 1:15am