Miers: Is that all there is?

By Jeremy Schupbach jshoebox@mac.com Conservatives would be wise to be cautious in their support of the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice. The jury is out on whether Harriet Miers will be the strict constructionist, federalist justice in the mold of Scalia or Thomas; the kind of justice that President Bush promised to nominate. Too little is known about Miers.

What are her credentials? She is touted as a consensus builder, a pioneering woman in the field of law, an “elected member of the Dallas City Council” and head of the Texas Lottery Commission. Miers is an unknown quantity, with a surprisingly light resume. Her law degree is from Southern Methodist University; she is hardly the intellectual appointment that conservatives expected. That’s not to say that she’s unqualified. It just suggests that, compared to other names that must have been on the President’s short list, her nomination seems, well, less serious. John Roberts has an impressive resume; Miers has a resume.

On face value, it appears that Miers was picked because she is a personal friend of George W. Bush, and because she was a woman he felt comfortable with. And that may be the heart of the matter for those who are disappointed with the pick. Miers’s nomination smacks of favoritism and not commitment to larger principles - principles conservatives will fight for, and hope that Bush will too. Some would say that she got the nod because of cronyism. Miers was the safe pick. This was the pick of a President looking to duck a fight rather than throw a punch for the values on which he campaigned.

This was Bush’s opportunity to name a bona fide conservative and change the balance of the court. This was his moment to show the courage and personal strength that has shaped his foreign policy. This was the moment conservatives hoped would repay their dedication and loyalty of the last 20 years.

In part much of the initial disappointment was because Miers was a safe pick. Conservatives were looking for a fight. We were ready to support a Luttig, an Owens, an Alito. We were eager to have a stage to debate the direction of the courts and the danger that an activist court represents. We wanted a piece of Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer. They’re wrong, we’re right, and this was -- in the minds of many -- supposed to be the moment we proved it. This was a shot at the title.

But the Miers nomination denies conservatives this debate. If conservatives rally behind the President’s choice -- and the jury is still out on that -- it won’t be because we’re defending the principles we cherish and she defends well. It won’t be because her belief in the supremacy of the original intent of the framers is well documented. No, it will be on the trivial and the insignificant. The truth of the matter to many conservative minds is that the nomination, and the hearings to follow, will likely deny conservatives the high ground we have worked 20 years to gain. And that is disappointing.

There are of course no givens with Miers. Her supporters are quick to argue that we should trust the President. She may turn out to be a great justice in 10 years. She may turn out well -- there is no way to know that yet. And that is the problem. We should know now, or at least have some solid evidence, but with Miers there is no evidence. After so many years conservatives are looking for evidence -- and the evidence is scarce.