Category: Politics

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What Should Democrats Do Regarding Harriet Miers?

miers1a.jpgPaul Horwitz at PrawfsBlawg raises the difficult strategic dilemma for Democrats on the Harriet Miers nomination:

Therein lies the Democrats’ dilemma — actually, a double dilemma. 1) They do not want to oppose Miers loudly if they think her replacement might be a Luttig or a Brown, both because those judges are a more potent threat to their desired outcomes and because such nominations would be a political and fundraising prize for conservatives. 2) They also may not want to be on record as viewing mediocrity as a disqualification for the Court, since it constrains their own future choices.

Put slightly differently, the argument for Democrats in favor of Miers is this: Although Miers is relatively unknown, there are some indications that she might be moderate, even liberal, on key issues. An alternative replacement for Miers might well be much more firmly committed to conservative positions and be a more reliable conservative vote. If Miers turns out to be a consistent conservative vote, there are many indications that she won’t be a great superstar on the Supreme Court, and hence, she won’t be as effective as a replacement who might very well be a superstar. Furthermore, if Miers gets appointed, it will perpetuate great tensions amongst the Republicans.

Should this argument incline Democrats toward supporting Miers?

The liberal and political strategist in me is enticed by this argument. On the other hand, the intellectual and academic in me bristles at putting somebody on the Supreme Court who, by all indications thus far, does not seem to have the qualifications to be a great Supreme Court jurist. Ideally, I want a Supreme Court filled with brilliant distinguished jurists.

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Miers, Frum, Congress, and Respect

miers.jpegAt National Review, David Frum’s criticms of the Miers nomination continue apace. Frum is now discussing John Fund’s op-ed from yesterday, which focused on a conference call where religious leaders were told about Miers’ alleged beliefs about Roe v. Wade. If true, this creates a number of potential problems. Frum notes one particularly salient problem:


If Fund is right, the White House was acting in such a way as to persuade a group of religious leaders that they were being given more information on a nomination than would be given to the US Senate.

Such behavior, if true, would be inexcusable. Either the White House is giving religious leaders greater access to nominee information than Congress — which would be outrageous. Or the White House is simply letting religious leaders think (wrongly) that they’re getting more information than Congress — which would be evidence of blatant hypocrisy, dishonesty, and deep contempt for its own supporters. Neither option looks good for the White House.

Probably the best way out is to hang the two call participants (who allegedly knew Miers’ preferences) out to dry, painting them as rogue agents or loose cannon loudmouths. But can that be done — to two close Miers associates — without negative consequences for Miers herself?

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Fund on Miers

A number of prominent conservative pundits – among them George Will, Bill Kristol, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Malkin, and Charles Krauthammer – have publicly opposed the Harriet Miers nomination. However, the nomination has been supported by some social conservatives including Hugh Hewitt and James Dobson. In today’s WSJ, John Fund suggests one reason why some social conservatives might be supporting Miers:

On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers’s close friends–both sitting judges–said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.

If this is accurate, how does it change the calculus? (And how can we gauge its accuracy?)

Perhaps this information brings conservatives on board. If Roe is a trump card, perhaps a guaranteed no-on-Roe overrides concerns about her views in other areas, or about her lack of a paper trail, or even about her SMU sheepskin. On the other hand, perhaps this information only serves to drive away moderate supporters. Does Harry Reid still support her candidacy now?

And is it possible that Dobson has managed to torpedo Miers’ candidacy by his earlier declaration that “I know something secret,” which (perhaps) brought Fund in to investigate in the first place?

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Will the Blogosphere Affect the Miers Appointment?

miers2.jpg

VCstats3.jpgThe blogosphere is erupting with reactions to Harriet Miers nomination. Will the blogosphere affect the confirmation? What kind of effect will it have?

My guess is that the blogosphere will play an important role. Many blogs have experienced an influx of traffic this week after the nomination was announced, such as The Volokh Conspiracy, which jumped from about 25,000 visits per day to over 40,000. [The image on the right is of The Volokh Conspiracy's visitor traffic over the past month.] These blogs are being read by those in all corners of government. They are thus influential in shaping the debate, especially among those in powerful positions. Blogs are also helpful in getting a read on what people very engaged in politics are thinking.

The confirmation hearings have largely become a meaningless ritual, where little about a nominee is revealed, where nominees merely dodge the tough questions and provide assurances that they won’t “legislate from the bench.” The more meaningful discussions are occuring in the blogosphere. Perhaps this is where Miers will be most thoroughly vetted and discussed.

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Reactions to Miers

A non-comprehensive collection of links, gleaned from all over over the past few days (with Bainbridge and Volokh providing much of the information):

Support from the right:

Hugh Hewitt.

James Dobson.

Grover Norquist.

Mike DeWine.

John Cornyn.

Support from the left:

Daily Kos.

Harry Ried.

Ben Nelson.

Opposition from the right:

Charles Krauthammer.

George Will.

Randy Barnett.

Michelle Malkin.

William Kristol.

Stephen Bainbridge.

David Frum.

Ann Coulter.

Opposition from the left:

Counterpunch.

Marjorie Cohn.

The Nation.

Undecided

People for the American Way.

Alliance for Justice.

Charles Schumer.

Okay, who am I leaving out that I should be including on the list?

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Mormons Pick Nominees, Part II

I’m starting to see a strange pattern here. First it was Ginsburg. LDS Senator Orrin Hatch has publicly taken credit for Clinton’s decision to nominate both Ginsburg and Breyer, writing of a discussion with the former president:

Our conversation moved to other potential candidates. I asked whether he had considered Judge Stephen Breyer of the First Circuit Court of Appeals or Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. President Clinton indicated he had heard Breyer’s name but had not thought about Judge Ginsberg.

I indicated I thought they would be confirmed easily. I knew them both and believed that, while liberal, they were highly honest and capable jurists and their confirmation would not embarrass the President. From my perspective, they were far better than the other likely candidates from a liberal Democrat administration.

And with Orrin Hatch’s advice and consent, first Ginsburg and then Breyer were confirmed. (There are conflicting views as to what this means).

Now, LDS Senator Harry Reid claims to be the inspiration behind the Miers nomination:

At the meeting we had with the president last week, we were in the office he has there; I was there, Frist was there, Leahy was there, and Specter was there, plus Andy Card and the vice president. I said, “The vice president got here in a very unusual way. He was chosen by you to find a candidate to be your vice president. You liked the person in charge of finding a candidate better than the people he chose.” I said, “I think that rather than rather than looking at the people your lawyer’s recommending, pick her.”

As a church member myself, I’m pleasantly surprised by the trend. Three of the last four nominees were initially suggested by co-religionists? Not bad, not bad at all. Perhaps we’re not electable as presidents, but it looks like we’re doing alright being the power behind the throne.

I would post on this issue further, but I’ve got to run and go refine my short list. Just in case the President calls to ask me about nominees.

(Cross posted at Times and Seasons).

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Miers’s Political Contributions to Al Gore and Lloyd Bentsen

Harriet Miers’s

political contribution history doesn’t look surprising until you get to the

two earliest entries.  On the later entries, she gave to George Bush (R), Kay

Bailey Hutchison (R), Pete Sessions (R), and Phil Gramm (R).  But the two

earliest entries, from the late 1980s, strike me as very odd. 

MIERS, HARRIET E MS

DALLAS, TX

75219

LOCKE PURNELL RAIN HARRELL

GORE,

AL (D)

President

ALBERT GORE JR FOR PRESIDENT COMMITTEE INC

$1,000

primary

02/16/88

MIERS, HARRIET E MRS

DALLAS, TX

75201

LOCKE PURNELL ETAL

BENTSEN, LLOYD SENATOR (D)

Senate – DC

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN ELECTION COMMITTEE

$1,000

primary

03/30/87

Hat tip:

Larry Solum