Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Is it OK to ask questions now?

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Monday that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers told him that Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that said states couldn't criminalize married couples' use of contraceptives, was "rightly decided." That was before the White House protested and Specter issued a press release that, while not retracting his statement, said he simply must have "misunderstood what she said."

Two of Miers' friends from Texas, both judges, told fearless SpongeBob confronter James Dobson two weeks ago that they felt sure Miers would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a Wall Street Journal columnist. That was before Miers told U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday that "nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade." And that, in turn, was before senators today received a copy of a 1989 questionnaire on which Miers indicated that she would back a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions not needed to save the mother's life.

So since we have a Supreme Court nominee with no judicial experience, relatively few writings on constitutional law, and a series of supposed misunderstandings about her positions on key constitutional issues, let's hope no one would mind if senators took off the kid gloves at the confirmation hearings and actually went after some straight answers.

Or would that just be impolite?


Anonymous Jason Coleman said...

I expect the gloves will come off, and that's just what the President and Miers want to happen.

Here for the first time in a while (since Renquist actually) we're going to have someone up there who's not fulfilling some lifelong dream to be a SCOTUS Justice.

In this case we have a woman who never really considered it a possibility and now is being elevated (some would say against her personal intent) to the highest court for reasons that are the most noble. The President WANTS her there for HER VIEWS on the law, life and the nation.

While the left is confused and the right is in disarray, I'm pleasantly pleased with the choice. I believe that the SCOTUS needs at least one non-judge on the court and elevating someone because of their personal views being in line with the President seems a bit more noble an appointment than someone like Roberts who (while I like him as CJ) groomed, preppred and crammed himself for the position for quite some time.

In my opinion, either Miers will shine brightly in the hearings (I expect she's going to crucify Kennedy and make Schumer stumble over himself) or she'll be subject to Democrat filibuster once she DOES answer those questions and begin the debate the right wants so badly.

Either way the President wins. If she's filibustered by the Dems, she's a judicial martyr and we will see a "uber-judge" who the Dems will have to play the Ginsberg rule with and then if they try to filibuster again, the Republicans take almost all the 06 Senate seats in a landslide.

I still hold that no matter what way this goes, Miers' nomination is a masterstroke by Bush. He's confuddled the left, he's shaking down the flaky elements of the right and bloody-ing the nose of the right's judicial activists while appealing to the "everyday man and woman" by putting a forceful woman who will speak her mind on the bench, or at least trying to.

But finally, and sorry to take up so much space, NO it's not time YET to ask your questions, send them to the committee members if you have them, but the time to ask will be the hearings, and I'm sure your questions and much much more will be answered then.


1:07 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

I agree about having a justice who comes from outside the judicial pipeline. I think Sandra Day O'Connor, for all of the criticism that her votes sometimes could be unpredictable, brought a needed element of pragmatism to the Court with her background as a state senator.

I see more confusion and/or anger about this nomination on the conservative side than on the liberal side, however. Plenty of leading Republican commentators and former lawmakers have excoriated President Bush's decision not to nominate someone with a more established judicial philosophy, especially with the GOP in control of the Senate and able to do pretty much whatever it wants right now.

But I haven't heard much at all from the Democrats. If anything, it may be that some of them are happier with the choice, or at least less opposed to it, than many in the GOP are. I've even seen reports that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid pushed Bush to consider Miers for the nomination.

The confirmation hearings are the time to ask the hard questions, of course, and that's what I wrote in the post. Whether the Miers nomination is a masterstroke or a disaster or something in between will become clearer then.

3:05 PM  
Blogger King Cockfight said...

Thank God the Bush administration got Miers to cough up that Specter misunderstood that she thought it was wrong for Connecticut to prosecute someone for using or even telling someone about condoms.

Breaking the law made safe sex and birth control so much fun -- or as fun as sex can be in Connecticut.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Jason Coleman said...

I'd suggest that the Dems are a bit afraid to come out for or against right now, for a number of reasons.

First, she's got the goods on alot of the members of Congress and the Senate as part of the Administrations "response team".

Second, she's got a lot of "pre-nomination" support from Democrats who never thought the President would go this far to make is "mark" pick. Harry Reid is in a particular pickle about where to go on this from his "pre-nomination" suggestion of Miers to his initial comments supporting here.

Lastly, Miers is VERY representative of a large part of what the Democrats consider "their" base. A single, strong, self made woman is exactly the type of voter the Dems want come '08. Criticising her will create soundbites that will surely backfire when the big election rolls around.

The groans on the right stem mainly from their belief that there won't be a big philosophic battle about judicial activism and issues they are itching to duke it out over. There's a good chance that they'll get their debate when she sits down for the hearings, because while Miers has been quiet about her own views in the past, she's made it quite clear, as has the President, that if they bring up the subjects, she'll comment. It just can't be in the form of Schumers "case question" game.

The Dems know that they've got a tiger in a box on this one, and they want to poke at her, but if they poke to hard, she'll come out swinging and won't care about getting nominated. Kennedy will be the one to watch this go round, she hates him (rightly so) and if he pushes, she's liable to pounce on him and that'll force an "attempt" at filibuster. The gang of 14 has already stated that a filibuster isn't going to happen this go round, so the Dems are in a serious pickle.

I'd hate to be a Dem on the Hill right now, which is just what the President wants. People aren't looking at the BIG picture, it's fiefdom wars on the right, and "what do we do that will hurt us the least" on the left.

Make no mistake, there will be little to no Republicans that vote against her. That much is already certain.


7:37 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Many Democrats don't know what to make of this nomination, but a lot of Republicans don't either. From a strategic standpoint, it would seem wise for Democrats to remain quiet while the GOP fights its internal battles publicly, instead of speaking up and prompting Republicans to close up ranks to fend off Democratic attacks.

As for how Miers will perform at the confirmation hearings, that's anyone's guess. Chances are that she'll exceed many people's expectations, if for no other reason than that the constant barrage of criticism of her, largely from conservatives thus far, has lowered those expectations.

It's still too early to know if Democrats would filibuster Miers' nomination. But if the reports about Reid recommending her are true, I just don't see that happening.

And as for the GOP senators, I agree that it's likely that few or none of them will vote against her, but I don't think that likelihood has risen to the level of certainty yet. This nomination isn't quite the foregone conclusion that Chief Justice John Roberts' bid was.

1:40 AM  

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