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The real problem with the Mier nomination

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2005

Hugh Hewitt has been calling character witnesses for Harriet Mier, repeatedly going over his bullet-point list of her qualifications and credentials. Administration spokesmen and Mier’s friends and associates have been making the rounds, doing the same thing. I’m sure it’s all very reassuring to those people who fear that Harriet Mier might be another David Souter or is a lightweight (but I repeat myself).

But for me, these reassurances miss the point. It’s not her law school or lack of judicial or academic background that concern me, and it’s not primarily concern over whether she’ll "go wobbly." I’m bothered by the appearance of weakness and lack of resolve. In politics, perceptions matter. When Dick Durbin goes on a TV talk show and crows about how the Democrats pressured Bush into nominating a "more mainstream" candidate, that’s a bad sign.

By nominating Harriet Mier, Bush has implicitly accepted two of the Democrat’s key premises: that membership in the Federalist Society is too controversial and that a clearly-articulated originalist or strict constructionist judicial philosophy is too far out of the mainstream. I think that’s a terrible mistake.

I didn’t want Bush to name a "stealth" candidate who thinks like Thomas and Scalia, but gets confirmed by hiding that — as if originalism and strict constructionism are ideas to be ashamed of that must be snuck past people. I wanted him to name someone known to be like Thomas and Scalia (you know who comes to mind) — not just to get another vote on the court, but to re-establish the notion that of course such candidates are qualified and such ideas are respectable.

The battle over what is and is not an acceptable judicial philosophy needs to be fought and won. If not now, when?

UPDATE: See also my earlier post, Hugh hearts Harriet. And please consider voting for it at Radio Blogger (before noon on Monday, 10/10), where I’m up for blog of the week.

UPDATE 2: It’s Miers, not Mier. But it’s also moot; she’s withdrawn herself. After reading one of her speeches, I’m relieved. See why here.

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