October 24, 2005

Miers under Fiers

Okay, lame attempt at a pun, but I wanted to highlight these two opinion pieces about the Miers nomination. They are nearly polar opposites in their arguments.

John Hinderaker of PowerLine writes in the WeaklyWeekly Standard that there are basically three reasons to get behind Miers: a) the President nominated her, b) demanding the best possible candidate now will let Democrats demand the best possible candidate later, and c) the fact that Miers has little experience with constitutional law or expertise should count for her, not against her because, for goodness' sake, we don't want all incomparably brilliant people who know the Constitution inside out and devote their lives to studying it actually ruling on it! We want some people that will look at it like a regular person and not a, you know, judge. Me? I want a mechanic looking at my car, not some average joe. When it counts, expertise matters.

A much, much better analysis of Miers is Bill Stuntz's piece in The New Republic, "Harriet Miers and Dan Quayle." His point is that, like Dan Quayle, Miers is not a terrifically bad choice measured historically. But our expectations have risen, and justifiably so. Read the whole thing--it's great.

The point is not that there aren't many people, even outside the world of law, who could make great Justices. The point is, this is a huge decision, and being sure this person will be a valuable addition to the Court and not a (at best) non-factor is important. There is a screening process for determining fitness for the Court--your record doing what you'll be doing for the rest of your life--constitutional law.

It's not the only determiner of fitness, but it is the best one. Barring some demonstrably outstanding attribute (and we have no evidence that Miers has any), senators should judge on the best rubric they have. Miers simply does not clear that bar.

More: Professor Bainbridge offers a thorough thrashing of Hinderaker's column on purely constitutional grounds, which is more than I can do.

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