Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A fine mess

John Podhoretz and National Review readers have been having a written scrum since JPod earlier wrote that Harriet Miers' experience in 8 trials and 8 appeals did not seem overly impressive considering her 29-year long history in private practice.

Here's JPod's most recent comment (as of this post). As an attorney in private practice, I agree with the part I've bolded below:

LAWYERS IN LOVE... [John Podhoretz]
...with their own arguments continue to insist that they really do a lot of hard work outside the courtroom. I get it. What I was trying to say, from this morning onward, was this: Those who acknowledge Miers' weakness in the field of experience with constitutional law have been arguing that her deep experience as a corporate lawyer gives her a voice worth hearing on the Court. Having then said that 16 court cases in 27 years of practice really didn't sound like a lot to me, I was informed--repeatedly-- that, yes, it was, or it could be, or it ought to be. Fine. So she's a corporate lawyer with a pretty standard resume and pretty standard experience as a corporate lawyer. So at the risk of offending all corporate lawyers, let me say that experience as a standard-issue partner at a decent law firm does not make you a credible candidate for the United States Supreme Court.

And to go back to the very beginning of this argument, no other Republican president in any alternate universe who might have prevailed in 2000 and won reelection in 2004 would have ever even heard of Harriet Miers. The end. Now shouldn't you be billing somebody? Or are you even now billing hours to a client while you are reading The Corner? (Tsk, tsk.)

Here's an excerpt of what I wrote TO JPod earlier [with some snippings]:

Miers' total of eight trials is unimpressive because Texas had a pick-up-the-file-and-go attitude toward trials through the '70s and into the '80s -- which is when Miers started and many lawyers of her generation started in litigation . . .

Miers also acted primarily as an adjunct in four of the eight trials (once as local counsel and three times as second-chair). I also contrasted Miers' experience with that of other commercial litigators I know and her experience is not extensive at all. One friend from my class at law school is in his 30s and has tried more commercial cases than she has. That says a lot because, as I noted to JPod, in the 1970s and 1980s there was much more opportunity to obtain courtroom experience as a litigator in a large private firm than there is today.

Ultimately, there are two key points to the Miers nomination: (1) she's on nobody's short list for the Supreme Court but the President's; (2) she's not demonstrably conservative. The latter point is the one that made the nomination a colossal failure because Conquest's Second Law of Politics, "[a]ny organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing," applies with full force to Supreme Court nominees.

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