Thursday, October 20, 2005

Worst. Nominee. Ever.

Okay, okay, no, Harriet Miers is no Bernie Kerik (that we know about). And she's not even a Brownie.

But jeez louise, the bipartisan Senate committee sent her questionnaire back? If she can't even answer these difficult but basic questions to the satisfaction of her own party members, then THE WOMAN IS NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE SUPREME COURT.

I'm sorry to shout, but I feel like everyone in America knows this but the White House.

Here was the brilliant Dahlia Lithwick's recommendation:

So I am begging now. This is embarrassing. End it. Karl Rove: Either plant the 500 pounds of cocaine you keep for such occasions in Miers' car, or trot out some actress to play her bitter, gay ex-lover. You have the power to end this. So do whatever it is you do. But end the unnecessary pain and suffering now, before someone really gets hurt.


DJRainDog said...

I've been saying this for years; I love Dahlia. LOVE her. She makes me giggle and cry at the same time. And she's a Yalie! And she's PRETTY! And smart. *sigh* And married. Oh, wait, and I'm mostly gay (sometimes, I forget). But reading her on Slate inspires me to read Supreme Court opinions, which in turn makes me really think law school sounds like fun and a good idea.

little-cicero said...

What qualification are you looking for. The Constitution is a simple, straightforward document. Half of its brilliant interpretors couldn't make out that it protected Habeus Corpus because they were so cukoo from being in black robes all their lives. What we need is a Constitutionalist who doesn't read between the lines of the Constitution, we need someone to do their job, no more, no less.

Andy said...

Well, you know LC, there are a lot of quite intelligent legal scholars who might not agree that the Constitution is as cut and dry as you say. For example, when the 14th Amendment says no state shall make any law abridging the rights of any of its citizens, there's a lot of conservatives out there who think that doesn't apply to gay people. Sounds like they're reading between the lines to me!

I am looking for a Supreme Court nominee who is well versed enough in Constitutional law that s/he can comfortably interview for the position and speak ad libitum on a wide range of issues without needing a gigantic cram session (e.g., Roberts) and who doesn't cite provisions of Constitutional clauses that don't exist (Miers).

Esther said...

I hate to burst your bubble, LC, but the Constitution was not even straightforward when it was put together. Add to that all the precedent and amendments of the last 218 years and it's a very complex document.

Yes, I'm a conservative. But I totally disagree with conservatives who think that the only document necessary for interpreting the Constitution is the Constitution. We can't ignore years and years of history and changes just because we like the founders.

little-cicero said...

The Constitution says nothing on the subject of marriage, if that's what your talking about(concerning gay marrage) It leaves that to the states, so I would not force the issue on the Federal Supreme Court, rather, those of the states, and the legislative bodies on both levels. The 14th Amendment applies to gay people, but there is no application WHAT SO EVER to gay marriage. Some conservatives (who are religious) would ommit this argument, simplistically saying that they don't want to hear about gay people any more. I have thought through this, as have other Constitutional scholars, and if the only thing you can sight is the 14th Amendment, I suggest you reread it.

Roberts' cram session lasted 35 years, if that's what you mean, and I'll need a reference to debate the latter criticism of Miers, but I will say that the preparation that Roberts and other nominees (Ginsberg) go through is to prepare for the grilling by Senators, which, in itself, is intimidating. I would say that, when the Constitution says: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." That is quite simple, and that someone might construe that it means you can demolish a house without permission of the owner in order to put a baseball field shows that they are incompetent to fulfill their duties. John Roberts, Harriet Miers, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia will be sure not to carry out such incompetence.

little-cicero said...

To Esther, I'm dissappointed in your judgement here. This has nothing to do with liking the founders, it has to do with the institution of objectivity in making our laws and approving them. This is a government of laws, not of men, and if it were of men rather, it would surely have crumbled. The constitution is written plainly, without nuance, instructing that we establish the Supreme Court in order that we may have such an objective source of judgement on when government is abusive or abused. Just as you don't change the Bible, which instructs your personal life, as a result of trends and time, you should not think it wise to change the constitution for such reasons. When we place within the hands of men the fate of a nation, we give them more power, which surely corrupts, thus the nation is corrupted when her guiding and restricting force becomes corrupted.

Andy said...

Oh, LC, you must be a lot of fun at parties.

I have thought through this, as have other Constitutional scholars -- sweetie, forgive me for being patronizing,'re 17. There's no such thing as a 17 year-old "constitutional scholar." You may have read the Constitution, but...I think you're puffing yourself up just a little bit. A touch of humility goes a long way.

And for someone who claims that the Constitution is utterly literal and straightforward, I don't understand how there can be any assertion on your part that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" allows leeway for the states to decide that marriage is a privilege to be extended only to heterosexuals.

You are right in saying Roberts' "cram session" lasted 35 years (or longer, even, he strikes me as a former precocious child). That's why Harriet Miers is wrong for the job. It's one thing to prepare yourself for a senate panel grilling; that's natural. It's one thing to bone up on fine points of the law. But it's another thing entirely to cite the "proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection clause" on the Senate questionnaire when there is, in fact, no such requirement. It even have been semi-pardonable if she had misspoken in public; but this amounted to an open-book take-home test, and she got an answer about Constitutional law wrong. Sorry.

little-cicero said...

From LA Times, David Savage:
White House officials say the term "proportional representation" is "amenable to different meanings." They say Miers was referring to the requirement that election districts have roughly the same number of voters.

"In the 1960s, the Supreme Court adopted the "one person, one vote" concept as a rule under the equal protection clause. Previously, rural districts with few voters often had the same clout in legislatures as heavily populated urban districts. Afterward, their clout was equal to the number of voters they represented. But voting rights experts do not describe this rule as "proportional representation," which has a specific, different meaning.
She mispoke, obviously, and will explain herself in the hearings, but she was obviously using loose language to describe the "one person, one vote," rule applied to the Equal Protection Clause. It's disappointing, but considering her distinguished career, I think she knew better, and had a slip of the tongue, trying to express the circumstances briefly and clearly, considering that it was such an understated point in her answer. She did not elaborate, because she was only touching on the case. This probably is the worst mark against her, but I don't think it's as telling as you suspect. That's one out of 1000 points made in the questionare, and one of the latter ones, thus I suspect it was a result of exaustion, as was the previous mispelling.

little-cicero said...

On other comments, Come on Adam, that was a slip of the tongue. I'm not a constitutional scholar, I just said "others" instead of "many" There's no reason to be a hard a@# about my phrasing error...I've got plenty of humility, but not enough to refer only to scholars for my Constitutional Interpretation.

The equal protection clause has nothing to do with relationships and whether they are classified as marriage or civil unions, it has to do with individuals and whether they are protected by our laws. Marriage is not mentioned in the Federal Constitution, so the Federal Judiciary has no Juristiction. Social Conservatives who say otherwise are wrong, and, like your side, are looking at the objective issue with impassioned bias, keeping them from seeing the simplicity of the Constitution, especially the 9th amendment that yields all unstated Federal responsibilities to State and local juristiction. I would encourage legislatures to prohibit same-sex marriage, but not the Federal Supreme Court.

Esther said...

LC: There is no such thing as a government of laws and not men. People make laws and people are flawed by human nature, that's the hard truth.

I have spent my college years studying both Constitutional law (yeah) and American political thought. You should really rethink the Federalist papers if you believe that the Constitution is that straightforward. There is a lot it does not say that went into the theory of it. Furthermore, I am not advocating we change it left and right. I am merely pointing out that it has changed and we cannot ignore that. When a Supreme Court Justice takes his or her oath of office he or she vows to uphold the Constitution, not just the document, however, but all the precedent thatn interpretation has written. And lastly, I do not hold the Constitution in anywhere near the same esteem as I hold the Bible. The Constitution was not necessarily built upon a right understanding of government. Pardon me for being willing to question that.

little-cicero said...

Agreed, the point here is that Objectivism must exist somewhere in the government, as objectivism must exist somewhere in our values. My Constitutionalism post explains it all. I don't want to take up anymore of Andy's space than is necessary.