Monday, October 03, 2005

Government: Supreme Court Happenings

By now you know that Bush has nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

What you may not know is that conservatives are pissed about it, for a variety of reasons. Apparently, she's...

  • A women replacing O'Conner, which can be viewed as an "affirmative action" pick.
  • In the 1980's, she supported Al Gore, Llyod Benson, and other Southern Democrats.
  • At age 60, she's too old, because she'll only get twenty or thirty years as one of the most powerful people in the world, and not forty or fifty years like Thomas or Stevens.
  • She's single and always has been, thus opening her up to rumors of being gay.
  • She has no record of being a social conservative or supporting socially conservative causes.
  • As a close Bush friend, who is open to the "cronyism" line of attack, and not an independent "movement" conservative.
  • She is not as experienced as other possible candidates. She has no judicial experience.

The first four criticisms seem pretty vacuous.

O'Conner was the first woman named to the Supreme Court. Obviously, Bush can name whoever he likes. But not naming a woman to O'Conner's seat after naming another white male to be Chief Justice would ignite a huge debate over diversity and gender issues, which are a weak suit for Republicans.

People forget that in the 1980's, 90% of elected officials in the South were Democrats, so if you lived in the South and were active in politics, you were a Democrat. (Al Gore was also pro-life, pro-gun, and fiscally moderate, but that's another story). Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, Phil Grahm, and even Ronald Reagan were all Democrats.

The age criticism is dumb. Without knowing exactly who a candidate is, wanting 5-20 extra years of service from them before they are confirmed is short sided.

The sexual orientation criticisms is unfounded. This is Washington. If she's gotten off with anybody in town in the last 20 years, it will come out within the next two days and the woman she was with will have a book deal. Meirs must know this. And she must know that a Republican Senate would never confirm an outed homosexual, just like they would never have a homosexual Majority Leader. It is therefore reasonable to assume she would not have put herself forward if she was gay.

The last three are criticisms are more compelling, and I find it refreshing that conservatives are making these criticisms.

I believe that movement conservatives want to avenge the rejection of Robert Bork. Bork, as you may remember, was rejected by a Democratically controlled Senate for being an open advocate for originalism (i.e., very, very conservative, like Thomas or Scalia).

Conservatives feel that Bush should nominate a proud, proven originalist/conservative with a clear record, and that he should make the argument to the country and to the Senate as to why this is good. I agree, but probably not for the reasons you think.

I have a great deal of faith in democracy. While it is clear the George W. Bush is an utter failure, he did win at least one election to be President of the United States. He has the right to nominate anyone he wants, and should nominate someone experienced, with a clear judicial record.

If that record holds up to public scrutiny and the Senate votes to confirm the nominee, so be it. That's democracy.

But I have a feeling that the American public would not allow someone who wants to overturn Griswold v Connecticut, and thus the right to birth control, the right to interracial marriage, the right to have an abortion, the right to private email, and many other rights that come from the generalized right to privacy, to be destroyed.

Nominating "stealth candidates" who are secretly conservative or liberal or rastafarian or whatever, is deleterious to the democratic process. Democracy is, or at least should be, about an informed public making informed decisions. And if the Bush administration thinks that they can overturn the right to privacy through ignorance and obfuscation, I think they are sorely mistaken.

Don't you wish more people just told the truth?


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