The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Supreme Mediocrity

October 21, 2005
Harriet Miers, to hear her friends speak, is one of the great legal minds of this nation, as well as a God-fearing Christian. She supposedly makes John Roberts look like a bum in a cheap wool suit. To hear her friends speak, she is not one of the most mediocre individuals to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court.

When Miers first heard that she was being considered for the court, she told the administration “thanks, but no thanks.” If she had stuck to her initial reaction, critics might have looked back a year from now and applauded her good judgment in refusing a position for which she was not fit. But the Bush administration, sticking to its trend of shooting itself in the foot, chose to force the nomination of a woman whose most important credential is that she became a prominent lawyer in manly John Wayne Texas. By those standards, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Katie Hnida—the first female to score a point in Division I-A college football—could have been potential candidates.

President Bush gave Miers his highest recommendation, telling the nation to trust him on this one, because, “I’ve known Harriet for more than a decade. I know her heart. I know her character.” He gave the same speech about Vladimir Putin before Russia rediscovered its love affair with internal repression.

This is not to say that Miers would assuredly be a bad justice. But we should never have to be in a situation where an unqualified nominee—in a nation full of great legal and civic intellectuals—is being considered for a job in which the most basic requirement is the ability to interpret the Constitution.

Miers is no doubt a talented lawyer and currently holds a difficult job as the White House legal counsel—keeping track of Karl Rove must be quite the headache—but there is no reason why she should be confirmed by the Senate simply because she was nominated. David Brooks reviewed old opinion articles by Miers and came away unimpressed, saying, “the quality of thought and writing doesn’t even rise to the level of pedestrian.”

In Miers’ own rather simplistic words, “more and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems.” Justice Harriet Miers is an unacceptable condition.

The worst-case scenario is that her confirmation occurs due to Republican “rally ‘round the flag’” mentality, making Clarence Thomas look qualified in comparison. The best-case scenario, and the one that would well serve the Supreme Court as an entity, sees her rejected by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans who refuse to accept the president’s word that Miers is qualified.

The Supreme Court garners its credibility from the respect accorded the abilities of each justice. It is fair for us to expect each justice to have a sharp and proven intellect and to be beholden to no politician. The nomination of Miers displays one of the Bush administration’s greatest weaknesses—its blindness to the negative side effects of cronyism when the crony in question isn’t equal to the task. For reference, see “Michael Brown, former head of FEMA.”

President Bush does not deserve to be taken at his word when he tells America to trust him about Harriet Miers. The long and short of the situation is that a mediocre candidate has been nominated to a lifelong position on the most powerful court in the land. In such a situation, mediocrity is unacceptable.

We should demand nothing less than greatness in an individual who is being considered for a position on the Supreme Court of this land. Let us push and prod the Senate to have the cojones to fix the problem.


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