Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Insufficient, Inadequate, and Insulting

NY Times reports that the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate judiciary committee--Sens. Specter and Leahy--have sent a letter to Harriett Miers asking her to resubmit her questionnaire, because (among other things) members of the committee have found her answers to be, "insufficient," "inadequate," and even, "insulting."

Ouch!

I suspect Miers and Bush believe that her confirmation by the full Senate is a foregone conclusion--and thanks to Sen. Frist's repeated calls for "up or down votes" on all of Bush's nominees this past summer, I'm guessing the full Senate will get to vote regardless of what the committee does. So to Miers and Bush, it is these hearings by the Senate's judiciary committee that must seem insufficient, inadequate, and insulting.

Sen. Specter has scheduled the hearings to begin on Nov. 7th. If this letter is any harbinger of what is to come, Ms. Miers is in for the "Clarence Thomas" treatment.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

See my comment on the previous post by RBR.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

I've read the answers. They are inadequate and insulting. They are written in a condescending manner as if they were in a pamphlet called "The Courts and You."  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Hey, for all we know that could be a genuine reflection of her understanding of constitutional law.

I'd say the Senate should reject her if I weren't afraid about who Bush would pick next. Which is better? An incompotent or a theocrat? How would an incompotent vote on the Court? Would she vote randomly or would she vote with who ever got to her first with advice? 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

"I'd say the Senate should reject her if I weren't afraid about who Bush would pick next. Which is better? An incompotent or a theocrat? How would an incompotent vote on the Court? Would she vote randomly or would she vote with who ever got to her first with advice?
 "
Presumably you mean that although you don't think she should be confirmed, you're worried that if she isn't, Bush might nominate, say, Gonzales, and that the Senate would confirm him.

Do you think that the Senate would be more favorable toward Gonzales than Miers, leaving out those members of the Judiciary Committee which she's made a bad impression on?

In the abstract, and hazarding a ridiculously wild guess, an incompetent is more likely to rule based on "common sense" rather than the letter of the law, the letter of the law rather than precedent, and on the case before them rather on theory of the judicial role or concern for the future precedent. In other words, like us normal people.

Being a theocrat (by itself) gives no indication how one would rule on any issues unrelated to one's religious principles. And whether "theocrat" means someone who thinks the government should enforce a religious ideology, or someone who thinks the government is currently enforcing (the correct) ideology, would make a big difference on surveillance vs. privacy issues, for example.
 

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

It's funny because the right is deathly afraid of who Bush would pick next, too. It seems that no one trusts that he will get it right eventually (meaning picking someone like McConnell).

I can't find a decent link, but I remember reading on some right-wing blogs people saying that they were sure Bush would pick someone even more moderate if Miers' nomination were to fail. 

// posted by Bell Curve

US West said...

RBR, we already know how an incompetent would rule. Just watch Clarence Thomas. All she'd do is pick her justice and follow him. And I say him because she wouldn't pick Ginsberg to follow.

Anonymous said...

Bob, isn't the concern also that incompetent people lack common sense? Today, the LA Times has a picture of a birthday card sent to GWB with two handwritten statements on it (here verbatim):
1. You are the best governor ever!
2. At least for thirty days, you are NOT younger than me!

Neither one shows any common sense.
And, they're creepy. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,

LTG already got my comment about incompetent people with "common sense."

I think US West is slightly off (but mostly right) about who Meiers would latch onto at SCOTUS. Look at her pattern. She finds the person with the most power/status and sucks up. She'd latch onto Roberts.

With regard to what would happen if Meiers was rejected...The reason EVERYONE on the left, right and center is nervous about the possibility of Meiers not being confirmed is that it would be very hard politically to reject two nominees. It would be nearly impossible politically for the Democrats to fillibuster a second nominee regardless of who it was. The religious right may be considering the same possibility on their side.

Which brings me to what I mean by "theocrat." I mean someone who believes that the state's role is to enforce the will of God as defined by their (the theocrat in question's) policy preferences. Looking at the religious right websites, it is hard to find a policy area they don't take a stand on. And they argue that all their positions are justified as the will of God (and so anyone who disagrees is defying the will of God). You may think such people are only the fringe but I'd refer you to statements by Tom Delay in various interviews.

Thanks for your comments Bob. They obviously got the conversation going. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

You're welcome. Glad I could help "stimulate conversation" without annoying anyone too much. :)

I've been using "incompetent" to mean "unqualified". If "incompetent" implies having no "common sense", then the real question is, does Harriet Miers this sort of incompetent? I have to say I doubt it.

It's easy to argue she's unqualified. From this questionnaire, one could argue she's lazy or uncaring. And being attached to the Bush administration makes one appear unprincipled and callous.

But I've seen no indication that she's a blithering idiot. Granted, I don't follow the news as assiduously as some of the folks here -- if there's juicy evidence of blithering, please let me know!  

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

Speaking of blithering, the second-to-last sentence of the second paragraph above sounds a lot better if it reads "...then the real question is, is Harriet Miers this sort of incompetent?"

Whether or not she does this sort of incompetent is not a question I want to raise or discuss, even accidentally. I apologize.

Bob 

// posted by Bob

Dr. Strangelove said...

I have seen no evidence that would lead me to believe Miers is incapable of doing her job effectively. While she is not a constitutional scholar nor has she been a federal judge, the same was true for many Supreme Court justices in the past, notably Earl Warren. There is every indication that she is highly intelligent and a very hard worker. Whatever specific constitutional knowledge she lacks, I am sure she will learn it quickly.

Certainly she is not the best person who could have been chosen, and her nomination sets (or reinforces) a bad precedent of cronyism in the selection of Supreme Court justices. But since the bar is "good enough" rather than "the best," I think she makes it over the bar.

Since her judicial philosophy is probably in its infancy at this point, I think the question comes down to character and honesty. Her inadequate response to the Senate questionnaire does not speak well of her in this regard. Nor does her blanket support--even affection--for Mr. Bush and his disastrous policies. But her long record as an attorney in sensitive political positions shows no ethical lapses of which I am aware, and that speaks well of her.

She's a born-again evangelical, but that can't be a good enough reason to vote against her, provided she sees her duty to be to defend the Constitution first and her personal view of the bible second. She probably does not support reproductive rights and might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I can't see that as a view too extreme to accept since the original decision was not unanimous and several sitting Supreme Court justices still take issue with it.

Said Senator John McCain about nominations to the Federal judiciary, "Elections have consequences." Unless there's a smoking gun we don't know about, let's confirm her and move on.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Strangelove seems to suggest that a President has the right to get all his nominees confirmed unless there is some evidence gross incompetence or malice, i.e., a "smoking gun." I disagree. The Senate is meant to advise and provide consent. It is not required to rubberstamp all but the worst. Presidents always push for a standard of confirmation that says "confirm unless you find a hidden felony conviction." We should not give into that.  

// posted by LTG

Dr. Strangelove said...

I think LTG has overstated my position. I said the standard was "good enough" rather than "the best." I did not say the standard was "anything but the worst."

All the evidence suggests that Ms. Miers is a brilliant woman, an upstanding citizen, a good lawyer, and a person who holds views that are not terribly extreme. While there are people with better experience and more mainstream views, it sounds to me like she is good enough.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that the standard for a Supreme Court justice is somewhat higher than merely being a "good citizen" who happens to know the President. That includes an awful lot of people.

I don't concede that she's brilliant. We don't know anything about her (Bush won't release any of her documents). All we know is that a fairly big firm in Texas thought enough of her administrative skills to make her a managing partner. OK. What does that tell us? I'm sure LTG could tell us about a lot of complete idiots who are partners in law firms. I have relatives who are/were executives in major corporations before they retired and they don't have a lot of respect for the average Fortune 500 CEO. I'm not saying her resume makes her an idiot but it doesn't prove she's smart either.

The ingratiating flattery she engages in does not suggest someone confident in their ability to win through merit. The flatterers I've known have been uniformly unimpressive intellects.

Comparing her to Earl Warren is unfair to Justice Warren. While he wasn't a judge before being nominated to the Court, he had been attorney general of California and (I think) governor of that state too. Warren is more like Gonzalez than Meiers.

Rhenquist would seem to be more like Meiers but he at least clerked on Supreme Court and I think he argued before them too. LTG will have to help me with the details on these things. Meiers is really below the norm.

But we'll have to see how she does in the hearings.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

If by "below the norm" RxR means, "below the norm for a Supreme Court Justice," it's worth reminding ourselves that about half of the Supreme Court Justices should be below the norm. If RxR's implicit standard is that, "you must be at least as good as the least member of the Court," then the bar will keep getting higher over time. And maybe it should. I'm just saying that "below the norm" is not the same as "below the bar." If Miers is below the norm--as she may well be--the question is how far below the norm is acceptable?

Maybe Ms. Miers is there to bring the average back to human levels, lowering the expectations in terms of education and prior achievement. Just as Mr. Bush did for Presidency?

Anonymous said...

Good point. And as I'm speculated in earlier posts, the Supreme Court has probably had its share of complete dullards and raving fanatics before now.

But based on her resume alone I'd say Meiers is well below the average for confirmed Justices. But LTG or Seventh Sister probably know the history on this sort of thing far better than the rest of us. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans