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Beth Thornburg on Harriet Miers:
SMU lawprof Beth Thornburg worked with Harriet Miers for a few years in private practice, and had an interesting piece about Miers in the Dallas Morning News a few days ago. The essay concluded with some speculation about what Miers might do if confirmed to the Supreme Court:
  If she follows her lifelong pattern, [Miers] will bond with and start deferring to the most appealing powerful male on the court. Pundits reading tea leaves should then concern themselves with which justice she would choose: Justice Antonin Scalia? Chief Justice John Roberts?
  But if she becomes the next justice, something else may happen to Ms. Miers. After all, she will need no further boosts up the career ladder. She will have no client whose interests must be zealously represented. She will be armed with her considerable intelligence and work ethic.
  She can finally, if she chooses, feel completely free to speak her mind. I have no idea whether I would agree with the positions she might take. I can only hope that those positions are informed by the years she spent as the only woman in the room.
  UPDATE: This April 2005 interview with Miers is worth reading, too.
Huggy (mail):
Sounds like a variation on "slept her way to the top." Are we supose to swoon? What if the President of Harvard had said that?
10.25.2005 4:31pm
JayJ:
The first of the possibilities Thornburg raises correlates with a possibility I've been mentioning for weeks now; viz., Miers might very well become a "sidekick" Justice. But the second possibility Thornburg raises cannot be ruled out either, which is why it's vital that the hearings serve to get solid, current evidence as to Miers's judicial philosophy, and also serve to get an overall measure of whether Miers is capable of serving on the highest court in the land.
10.25.2005 4:53pm
JayJ:
And let me clarify that even if the first possibility does come true, the hearings are, of course, still vital for the reasons I mentioned above.
10.25.2005 4:54pm
tefta (mail):
I don't know much about deferring to the most appealing powerful male in the court, but I sure can relate to being the only woman in the room. It wasn't easy and we all dealt with it in our own way. You people who are so quick to react should walk a mile in Miers's pumps before judging her.
10.25.2005 5:15pm
AF -- other one:
I'm glad to see perhaps the end of the carefully selected "another sign of the tipping point" posts. Although the selection made from the article by the poster wildly distorts it — suggesting that Miers is some sort of bubbly cheerleader rather than someone who learned how to operate and succeed in a field dominated by men. That sort of distortion will assuredly feed into the notion that opponents are being at least in some part sexist in prematurely judging Miers.
As for the end of the "tipping point" concept, perhaps one of two things is happening...

1. The intellectual right has finally finished venting and might now start actually considering this nomination on the merits. Indeed, the idea of there being a tipping point gives weight to the worst kind of rejection based not on supplied reasons and argument, but on who else is rejecting the nomination. I mean, the Wall Street Journal, New Republic, etc... says "lets wait til the hearings," then promptly about-face based on some Senators politically-calculated grousing, a perfectly adequate questionnaire response (prepared, for the cite checkers among you, in a little over 3 days), and understandable agitation in the White House. And before a single day of hearings and prior to hearing a single thing said by the nominee herself. I guess it is trendy for a smart conservative to draw the line here, for some weird reason. Amazingly, the only decent articles on this nomination are coming from the New York Times. See, e.g., NY Times article


2. There actually weren't any really awfull tipping point like things that happened in the last couple of days, and the story line is shifting.

Either is a plus in my view.
10.25.2005 5:30pm
stevesturm:
I agree her views are a big unknown and, once on the court and unshackled of the need to cowtow to the boss, it's anything goes.

I've argued that no one can be sure they know her views on a subject. Would she have been crazy enough to take a view that Bush disgrees strongly with and risk losing access? And forget about arguing the ethical obligations of an attorney to the client, I'm talking reality... and the reality is that Counsels to the President don't stay that way taking too many positions that are at odds with the President.
10.25.2005 5:48pm
cfw (mail):
Even if Miers felt independent to take her own approach, she has no approach of her own, does she?

She may have a "stand alone" approach in 5-10 years. Until then, it looks like she needs to borrow the ideology of others (clerks, other justices, etc.) simply to get the job done.
10.25.2005 5:58pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
What if she bonds with, her brother, David Souter.
10.25.2005 6:10pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
Does anyone really think that if Miers performs well in the hearings, it will be for any reason other than her crash course in Con law and her hours spent in the film room, watching the Roberts hearings? Federalist #76 coupled with the utter absence of a good reason to support Miers, even now, more than 3 weeks after her nomination, should be enough to conclude that she should withdraw. The contrast between John Roberts and Harriet Miers couldn't be more stark.
10.25.2005 7:11pm
Jonny's_Light:
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:

Federalist #76 is Hamilton talking about Cronyism correct? I can't look it up due to my dial-up connection because of the hurricane. Anways, when she talked with Specter and Leigh a week ago or so, they claimed she was against abortion(or right to privacy, can't remember), then the White House cleared that up shortly after. It seems that when she ran with those wolves and she couldn't keep up. So she needs more than a crash course and a few hours watching the Robert's hearing..
10.25.2005 8:09pm
WB:
ouch
10.25.2005 9:02pm
Eliza (mail):
<i>Sounds like a variation on "slept her way to the top." </i>

I don't know about that. Hitching one's wagon to a powerful figure who gives every sign of being destined for advancement is a strategy employed by both sexes; it's the cornerstone of the patronage system.

But quite apart from that, just because an individual is accused of exhibiting a trait considered stereotypical of his "group" doesn't mean that he doesn't in fact exhibit that trait. What I think Thornburg is saying is that, based on her personal observation, Miers is a "follower" who is very shrewd about choosing her leaders. But I don't buy the "coping mechanism" theory; it's far more likely to be a native personality characteristic—otherwise she wouldn't be so good at it.
10.25.2005 9:25pm
Huggy (mail):
I seem to have been misunderstood. Ms Miers is fully qualified in my opinion. Bluntly, Ms Thornburg's remarks would be sour grapes in a work of fiction.
10.26.2005 8:40am
Larry (mail):
Miers, like many Washington insiders did "sleep her way to the top." While I don't know if she actually had sex, she learned the art, practiced by many women in DC, of being a sycophant and doing it well! Since many women feel intimidated by intellectual discourse, and they see other women succeeding by constantly "gushing" over the "best governor ever" (or whatever official) they figure it is easy to give up trying to be smart and be a bimbo.

Usually these people end up in executive branch positions. In the judiciary, however, it has been a been more rare, because many nominees come from outside DC, and most nominees need a track record of performance that is acknowledged by the bar (bar association work doesn't count.)

In the past year, however, I have seen female DC sycophants get nominated and confirmed to at least three judicial positions. Hopefully, Congress will stop one from getting one of the positions that matter where she, likes most women in her position, will just "kiss up" to the most powerful man.
10.26.2005 12:32pm