Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Do you trust this woman?

Do you trust President Bush?

When Bush unexpectedly nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, conservatives first reacted with complete shock. Subsequently, many began plotting the president's assassination.

Or at least it felt that way.

I'll admit that, like most of those disappointed conservatives, I had hoped for a nominee with an outspoken originalist judicial philosophy. But what matters is that the nominee is an originalist, whether or not she has a public record that visibly demonstrates it.

Some conservatives think the president had an obligation to select someone whose judicial philosophy is entirely evident to any interested citizen. Though that would make me feel better, I don't see that as any type of requirement. The Senate's job is simply to make sure she's properly qualified to do the job (which she is), not to analyze her ideology - or even be able to analyze her ideology. That's the president's job.

So while we might wish we knew more about Miers, that's life. If she's qualified, she should be confirmed. And if she disappoints us once on the bench, we can blame Bush. But it's up to him.

If the president is, in fact, making a mistake, it will be devastating - and my wrath will be upon him. But there's absolutely no warrant for attacking him now. What if she becomes the single greatest decision of the Bush presidency?

The harsh reaction from many of his traditional supporters prompted a press conference Tuesday morning to defend the nomination. And Bush defended his pick with force and seriousness, saying among other things:

"I don't want someone to go on the bench to try to supplant the legislative process. I'm interested in people that will be strict constructionists, and Harriet Miers shares that philosophy."

"I don't want to put somebody on the bench who's this way today and changes. That's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in finding somebody who shares my philosophy today and will have that same philosophy 20 years from now."

After repeatedly emphasizing his view of the court and the importance he places on it, and after an outstanding track record of judicial nominees to this point, I have difficulty imagining Bush betraying the judicial philosophy he has consistently worked for thus far - and betraying it on the most important nomination of all. He knows the mistake of his father, and he's evidently picked someone who he can trust with such an important position.

And though I would have picked Ann Coulter (who responded to the nomination, however, in a regrettably predictable fashion), I believe Miers will be a solid, excellent justice. But I'm still very, very worried, because I know I could be wrong - and because this matters so much.

There are other conservatives supporting Miers too. Is this nomination a masterful political move that most don't yet understand?

From what we do know about Miers, which is limited and much less than the president should know, we can still provide some defense of her conservative credentials. See this piece, plus here, here, here, here, and here.

David Limbaugh reacts cautiously. And I think George Will is one of many conservatives that's way off on this. Here's one direct response.

Follow the SCOTUS nomination debate at Confirm Them, Bench Memos, and see my blogroll.

Plus, some inappropriate humor.

Update: I think this is interesting because the media has claimed that it means Miers may be a "moderate" on gay rights. Of course, she answered the questionnaire the same way I would. Does she believe homosexuals should have the same civil rights as everyone else? Who doesn't? But for liberals, "the same civil rights" means a redefinition of marriage, deviation from creational norms, etc. It has nothing to do with an individual's fundamental rights.

Update: "Doubts from conservatives," "Conservatives confront Bush aides." Tim Chapman sums up the conservative opposition.

It seems to me that it would have been much easier for Bush to nominate someone conservatives were rooting for, like Michael Luttig. And that gives me more confidence that the president didn't pick Miers for political reasons, but because he trusts her and she's the one he personally wants. Brushing others aside, he's doing what he wants to do, and he's not letting anyone change his mind. Indeed, Marvin Olasky writes:
In so many ways, this appointment is classic Bush. Nearly six years ago, when asked in an early debate among Republican presidential candidates to name his favorite philosopher, W. famously said, "Christ, because he changed my heart." The pooh-poohing of his answer then (favorite philosopher -- the question was about mind, not heart) anticipated the current debate among conservatives: suffering servant? Why not intellectual leader?

It's George W. Bush's analysis that "heart" is crucial, since a good mind by itself also does not a great justice make. We may end up having been bamboozled by this nominee, in which case the Republican Party will pay a heavy price. But give Bush credit for going beyond the assumption that the person who would be the best constitutional law professor makes the best nominee.

Olasky also reflects on "the judicial implications of her evangelical faith":
Friends who know Miers well testify to her internal compass that includes a needle pointed toward Christ. Again, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht told me she has a philosophy that grows out of evangelical exegesis and carries over into legal issues: "She's an originalist -- that's the way she takes the Bible," and that's her approach to the Constitution as well. "Originalist -- it means what it says."

Horace Cooper defends the Miers nomination. Plus, Hugh Hewitt's take.

This is humorous:
Democrats, delighted by the division on the right, pushed Ms. Miers to repudiate assurances about her views that the administration has reportedly made through private conversations or closed conference calls with conservatives. "No Supreme Court nomination should be conducted by winks and nods," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Indeed, Dr. James Dobson, who's supporting the nominee, received a phone call from Karl Rove and says he knows reassuring things about Miers that he can't talk about. Dobson's touching radio broadcast Wednesday begging God for wisdom on this hugely important issue is well worth listening to.

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