The selection of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the United States Supreme Court has raised the hackles of an amazing number of right wing advocates for the predictable, demanding a “known” conservative for the high court. My initial reaction to this sentiment was the same as my considered opinion; people insisting that Harriet Miers is unacceptable because she is unexpected, have simply not thought this decision through with nearly the diligence that President Bush has applied, nor have they considered the tactical advantages.
There are, basically, five types of people paying attention to the SCOTUS picks. There are the activists in the Liberal and Conservative camps, demanding the court swing their way. There are a lot of people who don’t really care who the nominee is, except that they don’t want an “extremist”. There are people who have one really hot issue, where they demand the “right” sort of judge. And there are people who just want a qualified jurist, someone who does not rule by a litmus test but maintains a judicial philosophy based on the firm understanding of what the Constitution actually says and allows. Speaking for myself, I belong in that last group.
But while I am speaking for myself, it occurs to me that perhaps I should promote my credentials for the post. After all, I am a solid red-meat Republican, married to a woman from another race to please the Diversity crowd, and an energetic sprite of a 5-year-old daughter to add the requisite ‘cute’ factor. I am a Texan and have worked jobs for minimum wage before, giving me both a loose connection to Bush and the common touch. And I am quite disposed already to tell Senator Byrd or Senator Reid to suck a lemon if they get mad because I am not sufficiently ‘progressive’ for their taste. After reading and hearing the opinions of so many angry Conservatives, I think I may be just what they want.
Of course, some might prefer to have a Conservative justice known to the President personally, rather than rely on someone who just happens to be popular at the moment with the Right. Some might prefer someone whose mind and character are understood by the man appointing the justice. Some might prefer someone whose proven credentials not only suit the court, but also will be very difficult for Liberals to turn to their own political advantage, especially in the 2006 mid-term elections. Some might prefer someone who is focused not just on the issues of the moment, but the Constitutional foundation of American Law itself.
Those people should be happy, because George W. Bush made a choice that addressed those needs and ideals quite well, in Harriet Miers. But if an eminently-qualified jurist known to the President, and this President in particular, is not suitable, I am still willing to accept the responsibility, for the good of the nation, and for the chance to put a tack or three on the seats of Justices Ginsberg, Kennedy, Souter, Breyer, and Stevens.