Monday, October 03, 2005

Miers on Faith

The Miers selection has many conservatives quite exercised and one can hardly fault them for it. There are a few on the right though who are cautiously optimistic:

Hugh Hewitt calls Miers a solid B+ pick and notes that compared with Souter, Bush 41's "stealth candidate". The difference he points out is that Bush pere took the word of Warren Rudman and John Sununu whereas W has worked closely with Miers for the past five years.

Beldar makes a similar probably more compelling case:

...from Dubya's perspective, Harriet Miers was the one prospective female nominee about whom he personally felt that he could be most certain in predicting what sort of Justice she will become.

One of the points I made on the same day that John Roberts was originally nominated for this same seat was that his past long service to two Republican administrations — mostly in the role of private counselor rather than public advocate, aside from his actual Supreme Court arguments as Deputy Solicitor General — was absolutely crucial to his selection. The same is true of Harriet Miers, only more so. When Dubya looks at her, he doesn't think "blank slate, might be a Souter." He thinks: "I know her, she's been my lawyer through thick and thin, and I know things about her judgment and character that nobody else knows about her, but that leave me entirely comfortable about how she'll turn out as a Justice."

Some interesting and relevant first hand observations from Marvin Olasky at WorldMag (HT: Bench Memos) who's spoken with Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, a close friend of Miers':

In the absence of a clear record, it's important to know who a SCOTUS nominee's friends are. Since Nathan Hecht is a good friend of Miers and also a good guy, that's significant.

Miers has been a member of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years, where Hecht has been an elder. He calls it a "conservative evangelical church... in the vernacular, fundamentalist, but the media have used that word to tar us." He says she was on the missions committee for ten years, taught children in Sunday School, made coffee, brought donuts: "Nothing she's asked to do in church is beneath her." On abortion, choosing his words carefully for an on-the-record statement, he says "her personal views are consistent with that of evangelical Christians... You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a conservative church."

Hecht says about Miers' judicial philosophy: "She's an orginalist -- that's the way she takes the Bible," and that's her approach to the Constitution as well -- "Originalist -- it means what it says." He notes that her legal practice involved writing contracts rather than tort law, so she was always looking at the plain meaning of the words: "Originalist." He also says she's not a social butterfly who will be swayed by Washington dinner table conversation: "She goes to the dinners she's supposed to go to. She's not on the social circuit."

I am going to take Stanley Kurtz' view on Miers for now:

This nomination is a done deal. Why not reap the benefits and hope for the best? The good news is that, if Harriet Miers is what Richard Garnett thinks she is, then we’ll have put her through without a huge confirmation battle. And the president stands to gain in popularity with the center for having avoided a bruising battle.

At this point, conservative perception becomes reality. If we go ballistic now, without any evidence that this was a mistake, then we get a drop in the president’s popularity, and make no difference in who gets onto the court anyway. I think there’s quite a decent chance that Garnett is right about Miers. This could turn into our ultimate stealth triumph. If it’s not–if Miers makes it clear, after a year of what Adler says will be highly revealing decisions, that she is not conservative, then nothing will save the president from the wrath of conservatives. So be it.

But why assume this sort of failure–and do our own side great harm in the process–when there is still every reason to hope–and even believe–that things will not turn out so badly? Don’t get me wrong. I can’t blame folks for grousing–at least for a while. But eventually I think it will become clear that the political logic of the situation calls for cautious optimism. Again, if that turns out to be unjustified, conservative wrath will rightly be unstoppable. But if Miers turns out well, we will have mistakenly shot ourselves in the foot by pulling down the president’s popularity at a critical moment. If it was my pick, I’d have made it differently. But at this point, it is both fair–and politically wise–to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

One of the primary reasons why supporters of Bush love him as much as the Left hates him is that he has a record of making an unpopular choice and sticking by his guns. Do we have faith in the President that presented with a number of extraordinary jurists and at a juncture critical to the future of the Republic that he chose Harriet Miers without due consideration? Does he see something in Miers that he saw in Dick Cheney. Kurtz is right though - as much as many of us would rather it were someone else - Garza in my case - it is now a fait accompli and for lack of a compelling reason I am unwilling to abandon and undercut the President. Call it faith.

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