Miers Apologism

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Jonah Goldberg actually sums up pretty well my reaction to one of the main discourses on Miers, which focuses exclusively on whether she'll render the "correct" verdict on various important issues:

If all that's required is a reliable vote, National Review and the Heritage Foundation have plenty of interns who will do just fine.

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  1. I kind of like Jonah these days.

    The beauty of that argument is that it cuts both ways.

  2. That’s pretty much how they staffed the Coalition Provisional Authority, and look how well that turned out.

  3. Spewing on your interns…yuck. You gotta at least *pretend* you respect them, even if you use their ideological ferver against them (by, e.g., not paying them).

    Actually, though, that was a very funny line. (Also funny that Goldberg doesn’t suggest that they have plenty of *staffers* who would do just fine, too. I find NR’s blind support of Bush more and more tedious every day.)

    Joe, that was funny.

  4. I don’t think he’s dissing his interns too hard to suggest they’re probably not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court (yet). Hell, I don’t think any of us on staff here are either… though a couple of our contributing editors are.

  5. Does anyone seriously think the president cares about anything other than whether a justice will ‘vote the right way’? Intellectuals are of course disconcerted by the prospect of a justice whose decisions are grounded in ‘true belief’ as opposed to a sufficiently sophisticated theoretical rationale, but that is after all what distinguishes intellectuals from politicians. (Well, that and intellect.) In fact, the back story to the fuss and feathers on the right over Miers’ lack of a properly stellar academic or judicial background largely reduces to “She’s not one of us!”

    Quite so. She isn’t. I think Goldberg and others correctly note that Miers’ principal qualification (aside from loyalty, propinquity, etc.) is the fact that she is an evangelical Christian who can survive the confirmation process and will thereafter vote as Bush, himself, would.

  6. When FDR packed the court, did he go for reliable votes or for qualified jurists?

  7. “Does anyone seriously think the president cares about anything other than whether a justice will ‘vote the right way’?”

    Yeah, Bush is really an idealist. He will never betray his beliefs, no matter what (assuming he has any beliefs).

  8. Julian, I may have overinterpreted. I thought he was dissing his interns by implying that they are small-minded sycophantic robots who can be counted on to vote “reliably”.

    Imagine saying s/t like that about your interns. There is probably a “youthfully blind” adherence to certain libertarian principles, maybe it even gets annoying, but I doubt you could count on your interns to be “reliable votes” for any president (or other individual).

  9. When FDR packed the court, did he go for reliable votes or for qualified jurists?

    Well, I guess that makes it alright, then!

    Seriously, when we now have to go back to the uber-statist FDR to say “Somebody else would be worse!”, that’s a sign that things are pretty bad.

  10. Did curious really meant to defend Bush by comparing him to that old court-packing president or did he (she?) meant to suggest that Bush isn’t even up to FDR’s vile standards?

  11. Curious: I was thinking about FDR this morning as well. My FDR question was centered more around “Did the Senate have a greater spine in opposing his changes?”

  12. Add to list of questions to ask SCOTUS nominees: Have you ever listened to an argument and changed your mind?

  13. Larry A, I think that is the best question of all!

  14. theOneState, let’s not rule out the possiblity that considers “small-minded sycophantic robot” to be a good thing. After all, many people consider their own personality traits to be positive…

  15. when we now have to go back to the uber-statist FDR to say “Somebody else would be worse!”, that’s a sign that things are pretty bad.

    Kerry would have been worse!

    Imagine… Chief Justice Ted Kennedy…

  16. I’d rather have nine writers from Reason — not National Review — decide Supreme Court cases than the current bunch. Deroy Murdock is A-OK, though.

  17. Just remember, whatever you might think of her, good or bad, you should contact your Senators about it.

    Love her, hate her, but goddammit, weigh in on her!

  18. B.D. — FDR nominated five Justices in his second term (1937-1941): Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, and Murphy. Here is the whole lot of them, courtesy of Wiki. Talk about cronyism! (BTW, FDR appointed nine Justices during his 12-year reign.)

    * Hugo Black was nominated by President Roosevelt to the Supreme Court in 1937 to replace Justice Willis Van Devanter. His nomination aroused controversy due to his previous affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan. However, he was confirmed by the Senate and was sworn in on August 19, 1937.

    * Stanley Reed, as the Solicitor General from 1935 to 1938, presented the government arguments for numerous New Deal cases before the Supreme Court, where he was appointed to by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    * From 1914 to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Felix Frankfurter was a popular professor at Harvard Law School. Frankfurter served as an informal advisor to President Roosevelt on many New Deal measures. On January 5, 1939, President Roosevelt nominated Frankfurter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    * In 1936, William Douglas was named chairman of the SEC. In 1939, Justice Louis D. Brandeis resigned from the Supreme Court, and Roosevelt nominated Douglas as his replacement. He was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 62 to 4.

    * Willam Murphy was elected Governor of Michigan in 1937. President Roosevelt appointed Murphy as his Attorney General in 1939. In 1940, Roosevelt nominated him to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

  19. I should have included this information in the Black entry. I’m too quick on the cut-and-paste:

    ** In 1926 Black won his seat in the Senate, which he then retained for another eleven years. Black was a staunch supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Black also supported Roosevelt’s unsuccessful 1937 attempt to change the composition of the Supreme Court via the Court-packing Bill.
    ——–

    All these bozos were either friends of FDR or in his Administration. He packed the court with his buddies and the Democratic Senate saw nothing wrong with any of them. Jeez, KKK membership (!) didn’t keep Black out–that was fine as long as he toed the New Deal party line.

  20. Picking cronies with no relevant experience is bad enough for cabinet posts (which can be swept away by the next President), but for the Supreme Court it’s downright insulting. Why not Jenna? she’d be around longer.

  21. Does anyone seriously think the president cares about anything other than whether a justice will ‘vote the right way’?

    Seriously, when we now have to go back to the uber-statist FDR to say “Somebody else would be worse!”, that’s a sign that things are pretty bad.

    I don’t think so. I think that’s more suggesting something everybody knows – Supreme Court nominees are chosen because the President of the time likes the way they can be expected to vote and the opposing side can’t come up with any reasons to object to them that will play with the public.

  22. Picking cronies with no relevant experience is bad enough for cabinet posts (which can be swept away by the next President), but for the Supreme Court it’s downright insulting.

    But ya’ll keep missing the whole point.

    Bush nominated people who were better qualified. We may not have liked them for various reasons, but they were more qualified than Miers. What happened? The senate dems flatly, consistently, said no.

    So what does anybody expect Bush to do? If I was in his shoes, I’d be looking for a way to throw some crap back too.

    The question is, do we have any clear reason to beleive Miers will really be worse than anybody else Bush might have nominated, if the senate weren’t being so obstinate?

    Maybe we don’t have an answer for lack of data. But it doesn’t matter anyway. So long as the senate filibusters, this is going to be the Bush asnwer. Like it or lump it, but it isn’t entirely Bush’s fault.

    btw, SCOTUS nominees are always people the president likes, it’s part of the game. So it isn’t relevant.

    I agree with thoreau, things are pretty bad. Don’t get the impression that I like any of what’s going on, or even that I like Bush. I just think we should see things for what they are.

  23. Poshboy,

    Senator for 11 years

    Solicitor General

    Professor at Harvard Law School for three decades

    Governor of Michigan

    Now, compare: president’s personal lawyer, staff secretary, White House Counsel for two years. I don’t think the past experience qualifies her to be White House Counsel, so that stint certainly doesn’t qualify her for the Supreme Court.

    But ultimately, the most important point about Roosevelt is that he did his nominating before either of my parents were born! The jet engine, color television, and radar hadn’t been invented yet! The need to reach so far to find even a remotely similar comparison – and still, to find analogues that, as a matter of fact, were a whole lot more qualified than Miers – just serves to shine a light on the weakness of your case.

  24. I find NR’s blind support of Bush more and more tedious every day

    Do you? It is pretty obvious you don’t read it, so I’m not sure why any supposed tedium would get to you.

    The NR is obviously very pro-Republican, but the idea that they blindly support Bush is just wrong. They’ve had very harsh words for (among other things) his spendthift ways, his immigration policy, his education policy, and his signing of McCain-Feingold.

  25. joe,

    since you seem to take exception to the FDR examples for being way too old, let’s have a look at more recent nominations.

    Well, for one there’s Abe Fortas, another fine Texan lawyer (very accomplished and as sleazy as they come) and best-buddy of LBJ for quite a couple of years when he got the nomination. And let’s not forget Byron White, an old Kennedy Family factotum, who was without doubt a very fine football player but not exactly a legal scholar, or was he?

  26. polt,

    You’re “updating” your argument by pointing to the 1960s?

    I think you’re making my point about the bad old days for me.

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