Monday, October 03, 2005

Frum v. Powerline

Two perspectives on the Miers nomination. First, relatively positive:
First, the charge of "cronyism" that we are hearing in many quarters is unfair. The fact that Bush knows Miers personally and trusts her isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing. If his father had known David Souter personally, I very much doubt that he would have put him on the Court. Appointing someone you know to a position of trust isn't "cronyism." In general, it's a good idea. It's only "cronyism" if you appoint someone unqualified for reasons of payoff or patronage.

Which brings me to point two. While we have expressed our disappointment over the Miers nomination, I think some of the criticism of her qualifications has also been unfair. What distinguishes Miers from many, probably most Supreme Court nominees is that she has spent the large majority of her career in private practice. There is no shame in this. On the contrary, I would guess that a large majority of the best lawyers in the United States are in private practice. Not only would many of them make excellent Justices, there is a lot to be said for having lawyers with practical experience representing clients both in and out of the courtroom on the Court. I don't know how good a lawyer Miers is, but it is silly to imply that because she has been in private practice, for the most part, rather than in government service or on the bench, she isn't well qualified for the Court.
Now, more negative:
I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States. And there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or--and more importantly--that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.
The questionable qualifications worry me most. Maybe I'll later see evidence that she's one of the top legal minds in America, but until then, my inclination is she should be rejected, regardless of philosophy, on grounds of weak qualifications.

No comments: