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Romney Rounds Up Legal Talent:

The Mitt Romney campaign has announced several additions to its Advisory Committee on The Constitution and The Courts, including several prominent lawyers who had previously supported Fred Thompson campaign. Among the former legal Fredheads to enlist in Team Romney include former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing, Former Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, Former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, Former Assistant Attorney General Charles Cooper, Former Assistant Attorney General Eileen O'Connor, and Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Noel Franscisco, among others. It's an impressive list of additions to an already impressive roster of legal talent. Notably absent from the list, however, are any of the former Fredheads who contribute to this blog. As far as I am aware, we are all still uncommitted.

pgepps (www):
Stay that way. :-)

There are worse prospects than Romney, but. . . . he ain't Fred. It's hard for me to very enthusiastically back one of the remaining candidates over another. I find myself asking, "Who shows the least interest in domestic politics?" among these perhaps-necessary evils. Romney, unfortunately, sounds like "a man with a plan."
1.24.2008 10:49pm
MilesLegis:
I am in the military. There is no question about Romney: we would describe him as 'squared away', or 'he has his [stuff] wired tight'.

The only thing Romney does not do is rely on the death of the Son of God for his Salvation from sinful rebellion from God.

There are no other candidates on the field even close to Romney's ideological conservatism. Unless you are looking for a certain personality, in which case you might want the affable but liberal Huckabee, then Romney is the unquestionable conservative choice.
1.24.2008 10:56pm
Milhouse (www):
I know what you mean. I still haven't decided whether, in the primary, I will write Thompson in, or vote for Romney just to keep the other, less acceptable, candidates from winning. In the general election, if McCain, Giuliani, or Huckabee get the GOP nomination, I don't think voting GOP will be one of my options. Romney I could live with; he may turn out no worse than Bush.
1.24.2008 11:36pm
Will Schendel (mail):
Miles,

You want to translate that second paragraph for the rest of us?
1.24.2008 11:36pm
Ted F (www):
Ex-Conspirator Michelle Boardman's on the Romney team, I believe.
1.24.2008 11:37pm
Cornellian (mail):
i>There are no other candidates on the field even close to Romney's ideological conservatism. Unless you are looking for a certain personality, in which case you might want the affable but liberal Huckabee, then Romney is the unquestionable conservative choice.

The problem is not Romney's conservative ideology, it's the fact he seems to have adopted that ideology right about the moment that he needed the support of Republican primary voters who consider that ideology important. In other words, he comes across with all the right words, not because he believes any of it, but because he's a CEO executing a marketing campaign.

As for whether Huckabee is "liberal", the Republican primary voters of South Carolina don't appear to think so, and SC is one of the most conservative states in the country.
1.25.2008 1:12am
Linus (mail):
Miles is trying to imply that Mormons (such as Mitt) are not Christians. Not too subtly, either.
1.25.2008 1:35am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The problem is not Romney's conservative ideology, it's the fact he seems to have adopted that ideology right about the moment that he needed the support of Republican primary voters who consider that ideology important. In other words, he comes across with all the right words, not because he believes any of it, but because he's a CEO executing a marketing campaign.


I don't know about that. About the only issues that he's arguably changed on is abortion and guns. On fiscal issues like controlling government spending (something the GOP has been sorely lacking in) and bread and butter issues like entitlement and health care reform he's been pretty consistent in generally favoring more free market approaches. Those really seem to be his passions and in that he's more than a bit like Reagan -- someone who was really more concerned about some of the "larger" issues but gave lip service to (and even switched his position on) hot button social issues because that's what it takes to get the nomination. I'm fine with that and so long as he appoints decent judicial nominees, I'd wager the majority of social conservatives in the party will be fine with it as well.
1.25.2008 2:11am
Jerry F:
Huckabee is a liberal on everything other than a narrow set of social/religious issues. For a number of hard conservatives, social issues trump everything else, hence their support for Huckabee (see, e.g., Duncan Hunter).

Romney appears to be the clear conservative choice here. Giuliani is as socially liberal as Romney ever was. McCain is all-around unpredictable. Neither Giuliani nor McCain would defend the borders.

And even if Romney ended up becoming a social liberal after getting elected, he is still the smartest/most competent of the Republican candidates, and hence the best choice for President putting ideology aside. And while despite his HLS degree, I haven't seen Romney giving much thought about originalism/constitutional jurisprudence issues, I trust that he would be the most likely to hear the advice of damn smart Fed Soc types when it comes to appointing judges, so that for all practical purposes he would be the equivalent of Thompson in terms of his impact on the courts and the Constitution.
1.25.2008 2:56am
Steven Lubet (mail):
Just out of curiosity, does the "Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts" actually give any advice to the candidate?
1.25.2008 6:36am
RattlerGator (mail) (www):
I don't read the board enough to be sure of this but I don't think MilesLegis was trying to say Romney isn''t a Christian -- I think he was trying to highlight the problem some Christians, not most, have with Mormons.

But he says Romney is the obvious choice. I agree. He has the best chance to keep the GOP governing coalition together.
1.25.2008 7:15am
M. Lederman (mail):
Steven Lubet asks:

"Just out of curiosity, does the "Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts" actually give any advice to the candidate?"

In particular, did they help draft this -- and, if not, are any of them at all concerned about endorsing a campaign that embraces such legal views?
1.25.2008 8:21am
MDJD2B (mail):
Prof. Lederman,

Reading the link yuo just provided made me more sympathetic toward Gov. Romney than I had been.

My concerns with him are not so much policy concerns, but concern's regarding the man's general unlikeability and about his vulnerability on account of his background.

The Democrats will be able to make hay out of his business background. The line will be that he made zillions by buying up businesses and firing people to make the businesses more valuable. Unlike tenured professors, most people feel vulnerable to being fired, and this will hit them in the gut. The fact that Romney looks and acts like the epitome of the privileged plutocrat will make such a campaign quite effective. Nobody feels warmly about this man as a person.

Considering Romney unelectable, and seeing no other economic conservatives, I consider the national security bona fides and the social policies ot the candidates, in that order. On this basis, I would vote for Mayor Giuliani or Sen. McCain over Sens. Clinton or Obama.
1.25.2008 8:54am
Chris 24601 (mail):
Does McCain have any kind of committee like this?
1.25.2008 8:58am
RT:
At the risk of falling into McCain's proverbial "wrestling with a pig" trap, I'll take Miles' bait: I'm a Mormon, and just last week I taught an adult Sunday School lesson in which we specifically discussed our "rel[iance] on the death of the Son of God for [our] Salvation from sinful rebellion from God." Whoever told you that we believe otherwise was misinformed.

Not that that has anything at all to do with Romney's candidacy, of course. I personally lean toward McCain, for reasons that have to do with politics, not theology, which I'd always thought was the point of a political contest.

As for Adler's actual post: though Romney is certainly putting together an impressive group of advisors, Bush did too, and that didn't seem to work so well. In my mind, the relevant question isn't so much whether these advisors actually give advice to the candidate, but rather whether the candidate is the type to actually take such advice when it's given. Romney seems like he would, which bodes well should he actually get the job.
1.25.2008 9:02am
Waldensian (mail):

As far as I am aware, we are all still uncommitted.

Alert the media! :)

On the "are Mormons Christian" thing -- best not to get too worked up. This is just another argument over who has the best imaginary friend.
1.25.2008 9:42am
theophilus (mail) (www):
I understand some arguments regarding McCain's conservative principles (environment, guns, CFR, border control).

However, with regards to fiscal conservatism, is there any more conservative candidate in the field? No earmarks. No pork. Cuts in Federal government to mirror tax cuts already passed.

Especially in light of the recent market downturn he's shown the most commitment to the free market of any candidate (with the possible exception of Dr. Paul).
1.25.2008 9:46am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The Democrats will be able to make hay out of his business background. The line will be that he made zillions by buying up businesses and firing people to make the businesses more valuable. Unlike tenured professors, most people feel vulnerable to being fired, and this will hit them in the gut. The fact that Romney looks and acts like the epitome of the privileged plutocrat will make such a campaign quite effective. Nobody feels warmly about this man as a person.
Which is a somewhat inaccurate view of his business background, as I am reminded almost every day as I see another box or two delivered to work from Staples.
1.25.2008 9:59am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I am in the military. There is no question about Romney: we would describe him as 'squared away', or 'he has his [stuff] wired tight'.
And that is probably why so many do not warm to him. At one level, he is by far the best candidate to run our government. He has the brains, experience, and personality to do it extremely well. He is a micromanager who sees the big picture and still has time to be a policy wonk.

But maybe because of that, he is also the guy who we all hated in high school, the best looking kid in the class who was also the quarterback of the football team, but also got As in all the AP classes he took. You can't go out for a beer with him, because he, of course, doesn't drink. Now add in the six well adjusted kids, and the nine figure fortune he earned on the side, and you get someone who is very hard to like.
1.25.2008 10:10am
Terrivus:
From the link Marty Lederman provided:

"The campaign receives legal advice from members of the Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts, which is comprised of some of our nation's top constitutional scholars and legal experts."

Forget policies. I'm not voting for anyone who doesn't know how to use the word "comprise" properly.
1.25.2008 10:12am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Yes but where did all the "impressive talent" that went to other campaigns go to? Given the source it can't be more than free advertising.
1.25.2008 10:14am
Ben P (mail):

Which is a somewhat inaccurate view of his business background.


The cynical would ask I suppose, is "Somewhat innacurate" close enough to be stated in a Campaign Commercial.


In my mind Romney's biggest fault is that he is "too slick," and it shows. Very few of the statements by any candidates in some sort of Q&A are really useful at this point, but several of the answers given in the article Professor Lederman linked are such obvious non-answers it seems worse than the rest.
1.25.2008 10:15am
Don Miller (mail) (www):

At the risk of falling into McCain's proverbial "wrestling with a pig" trap, I'll take Miles' bait: I'm a Mormon, and just last week I taught an adult Sunday School lesson in which we specifically discussed our "rel[iance] on the death of the Son of God for [our] Salvation from sinful rebellion from God." Whoever told you that we believe otherwise was misinformed.


As a life long Mormon, I understand what you are saying and I agree that people are misinformed. Many times they see to be intentionally misinformed.

My Christian Friends tell me that Grace is a gift from God that no man can earn. To try and earn it through my actions is an affront to God and shows hubris and a lack of faith. Actions are not important, only faith is important.

My Mormon Faith teaches me that no one can earn their way into heaven. Human beings by our nature are flawed and it only through the Grace of Christ that we can get to heaven. However, I believe that actions have consequences and actions reflect my faith. Mormons have a saying, Faith without works is dead. In otherwords, it isn't enough to say that we believe. We have to live our life like we believe. Our actions have to reflect our words and our beliefs.

In my faith, I would never say I have been "saved". That is something God will decide, not I or any other man.
1.25.2008 10:45am
MDJD2B (mail):

Which is a somewhat inaccurate view of his business background, as I am reminded almost every day as I see another box or two delivered to work from Staples.

He didn't make a lot of mooney from downsizing companies? I'm not saying that's all he did. I'm not saying that this wan't good for the companies or the economy in the long run.

I'm saying that people whose jobs are not secure don't warm to other people who make a lot of money through taking away the jobs of others.
1.25.2008 11:27am
alias:
On the "are Mormons Christian" thing -- best not to get too worked up. This is just another argument over who has the best imaginary friend.

Well, it's over whether they have the same imaginary friend or not, no?
1.25.2008 11:30am
PLR:
At 8:54:
Prof. Lederman, reading the link you just provided made me more sympathetic toward Gov. Romney than I had been.

Question ducking and constitutional disregard as virtues?

The name Victoria Toensing is reason enough to steer far away from that madding crowd.
1.25.2008 11:30am
lawdevil:
I can tell you that Eileen O'Connor is no legal expert!
1.25.2008 11:38am
Mark Field (mail):

Mormons have a saying, Faith without works is dead.


That's a Catholic saying, and in its origins had a technical meaning which was anathema to Protestants. Which is why Calvinist denominations remain skeptical.


The name Victoria Toensing is reason enough to steer far away from that madding crowd.


Referring to Toensing as "impressive" is like calling Mario Mendoza a "superstar".
1.25.2008 11:41am
MDJD2B (mail):


Question ducking and constitutional disregard as virtues?

Maintaining a strong and realistic national security posture as a virtue.
1.25.2008 12:06pm
Orielbean (mail):
I think that a major lesson learned from Bush II was the fact that we need a competent manager more than anything else. Doesn't matter if he is likable, not likable, or appears smart or stupid - it's more important to be a good judge of your cabinet. You know, the experts in each field that you choose to make the real day to day decisions. The Bush Derangement Syndrome comes out of people pointing out the constant tragedy of errors that Bush's cabinet committed, and Bush never quite "getting it" that action had to be taken against his cabinet - loyalty over competency.

It's one thing to have a Secretary of Defense with a do-or-die mentality and a new agenda to remake the armed forces, but when he gets free reign to continue making endless decisions that cost a lot of lives - that's where the hate rolls in. The liberals hated Rumsfeld for his ignorance, but they hated Bush more for standing by the loser time after time, where a new choice was needed. Look at the state of things now - Gates and Petraeus have done a much more competent job with a similar set of tools that Rumsfeld was given.

We weren't able to hold Cheney or Rumsfeld or others accountable, so we wanted Bush to show that he was accountable. When Bush dumped Powell - the only one of the group who clearly was not just loyalty-oriented and has been praised for his relative competency, that sealed the nail in the coffin.

When Bush dodged his accountability to manage his cabinet in a merit or competency based manner, and stuck by his cabinet, we then held the GOP responsible and gave a lot of otherwise-competent legislators the boot to punish Bush.

We should want a competent manager before any other qualities enter into the picture. Romney can offer that much at least - and Guliani is too willing to stuff cronies where they don't belong, so he would never be competent in his management style.
1.25.2008 1:26pm
Chris 24601 (mail):
Don Miller: "Mormons have a saying, Faith without works is dead."

Mark Field: "That's a Catholic saying, and in its origins had a technical meaning which was anathema to Protestants. Which is why Calvinist denominations remain skeptical."

Actually, it's right there in James, so Calvinists accept it pretty wholeheartedly.
1.25.2008 2:01pm
Crunchy Frog:
Don Miller, Mark Field:

"Faith without works is dead," is not just a Catholic/Mormon saying, it's straight out of the epistle of James. However, there is great controversy among denominations as to what it means. Faith plus works? Faith alone? Faith alone, but with works as a natural response to salvation?

Martin Luther was in favor of scrapping the whole book from the canon for this very reason.
1.25.2008 2:27pm
Mark Field (mail):

Actually, it's right there in James, so Calvinists accept it pretty wholeheartedly.


Not the way Catholics were using it in the 16th C polemics (or at least the way Protestants interpreted the Catholic position). For them, "works" included the [Catholic] sacraments; thus, the sacraments became a means of justification outside of faith. Or, at least, it could be seen that way.
1.25.2008 3:19pm
Third Martin (mail):
Don Miller wrote:

"My Mormon Faith teaches me that no one can earn their way into heaven....However, I believe that actions have consequences and actions reflect my faith. Mormons have a saying, Faith without works is dead. In other words, it isn't enough to say that we believe. We have to live our life like we believe. Our actions have to reflect our words and our beliefs."

But where Mormons become heretics is where they say that the good works that we do are acceptable to God apart from faith in Christ. Mormons believe that faith in Christ only works for us if we've done all that we can do to be good people. For them, faith in Christ pushes us over the line but only after we've been as good as we can be. This will always be heresy.
1.25.2008 3:25pm
Jimmy S.:
Martin Luther was in favor of scrapping the whole book from the canon for this very reason.

That provides delicious irony in light of the many Protestants who have told me that Mormons are going to hell for adding to the Bible.
1.25.2008 3:33pm
Jimmy S.:
Oops--previous link should have led directly to verses 18-19.
1.25.2008 3:38pm
pluribus:
Romney has a JD from Harvard Law School. I would hope that that would deter him from making troubling statements like the following, but apparently not:


Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Romney: Double Guantanamo
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- When asked about interrogation methods for terrorist suspects, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the goal should be to prevent future attacks and suggested doubling the capacity of the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay.

"I don't want them on our soil," Romney said. "I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers that they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons. I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."



On this issue, he differs from both McCain and Huckabee.
1.25.2008 6:04pm
MDJD2B (mail):

We should want a competent manager before any other qualities enter into the picture. Romney can offer that much at least - and Guliani is too willing to stuff cronies where they don't belong, so he would never be competent in his management style.

Agreed, but he can't manage the government unless he gets elected first.
1.25.2008 6:08pm
SIG357:
I've moved from Thompson to Romney. (I know everyone was waiting on my endorsement!)

McCain has just too many flaws and has been too erratic lately. If reports are accurate, he was all set to join the Democrats in 2001 until Jeffords beat him to it. Plus, there is the whole list of bad legislation he has cooked up with Lieberman, Kennedy, Feingold, etc. I may not even back him in the general if he gets that far.

Romney seems smart and competent, which would be a nice change from Bush. And I think he is better suited to deal with what looks like an economic downturn approaching.

Plus, that's an impressive array of legal talent backing him.
1.25.2008 11:07pm
SIG357:
I understand some arguments regarding McCain's conservative principles (environment, guns, CFR, border control).

However, with regards to fiscal conservatism, is there any more conservative candidate in the field? No earmarks. No pork. Cuts in Federal government to mirror tax cuts already passed



From what I have seen, McCain is actually less of a fiscal conservative than are Romney and Giuliani. In fact McCain has admitted his ignorance of economic topics in general! It seems Phil Gramm is his advisor on this matters, brought in to address this shortcoming, which is some comfort.
1.25.2008 11:15pm
John Herbison (mail):
Governor Romney famously abandoned his previous support of abortion rights. Has he taken a position on whether states should be permitted to criminally punish the use of contraceptive devices?
1.26.2008 2:30am
LM (mail):
I have no dog in this fight (I'm an Obama Democrat), and I assume that any of the remaining candidates would be a big improvement over GWB. I'm rooting for McCain, because among my conservative friends the only politician they revile more is Hillary. A Hillary-McCain race could make schadenfreude the spectator sport of the year.
1.26.2008 4:44am