08 October 2005

Initial thoughts on nominee Miers

This story is still developing, and we still don't know much about Ms. Miers, but there are a few things we can conclude about Bush's latest Supreme Court pick.

She is no John Roberts. Nominating Roberts first as his pick for the Supreme Court and then as the Chief Justice was a home run. Though Democrats were concerned about his political beliefs, they could not question his qualifications. His judicial experience, intelligence and articulate presentation of his knowledge were on display during his Senate Judicary committee hearings.

Democrats are too happy with this appointment. With a 54 - 45 - 1 majority in the Senate (1 being Jim Jeffords, an Independent in name only) many Republicans--especially the right-wing base of the party--are dissappointed with a singularly uninspiring nominee. Dems and moderates had argued that Pres. Bush had to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a similar justice. This line of argument was of course based on... nothing. In the Presidential election of last November it was clearly understood that President Bush would nominate justices for at least one and possibly two retiring Supreme Court Justices. Those voting for the President understood his personal politics and could justly assume that he would appoint a Justice with similar views. There never has been a precedent that suggested that justices should be replaced by someone the same views--as though there were ideological slots that must be filled. The truth is that those who suggested such a policy were afraid of what they would lose with Justice O'Connor--a swing vote who sided with them on the important issues of abortion and affirmative action. In case after case Justice O'Connor was the swing vote affirming policies that had never been subjected to democratic consent.

Thus the disappointment of this nominee becomes clear. Many, including your humble blogger, saw this as a chance for a true national debate about abortion. With the Republican majority, this debate would force Democrats (and Republicans) to clearly delineate their positions in the great life versus choice debate. This debate could educate and inform a populace that has lived in a country in which abortion had become a part of the Constitution by judicial fiat. Hopefully, people would begin to question the legitimacy of a policy that had been legislated by nine people never elected rather than the citizens of the United States.

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