Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Best Qualified, With Qualifications
Harriet The Judge

Salon's War Room covers some of today's press conference with President Bush, where he was asked many questions about the qualifications of his SCOTUS nominee:

When George H.W. Bush made the claim that Clarence Thomas was "the best qualified person" for a place on the Supreme Court, it was a goof. As Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson wrote in "Strange Justice," Bush was supposed to have said that Thomas was "the best man" for the job, a "broad commendation that covered Thomas' whole remarkable life." Bush's stumble exposed both the president and his nominee to derision: One could argue that Thomas' upbringing made him the "best man" to replace Thurgood Marshall; one couldn't argue that Thomas -- who had been on the bench only two years and had practiced law only sporadically -- was the "best qualified person" for the job.

So what about Harriet Miers?

When George W. Bush sat down to select a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor, he could have chosen from any number of conservatives -- both in the judiciary and out of it -- with long and distinguished careers in constitutional law. Instead, he chose a business lawyer from Texas who has never served as judge and who may not have grappled seriously with a constitutional issue since she graduated from law school at Southern Methodist University 35 years ago.

Is she the "most qualified" person for the job? It was the first question Bush was asked at his Rose Garden press conference this morning, and his answer was unequivocal: "Yes," the president said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have put her on." More than once, Bush said: "I picked the best person I could find."

What makes Miers so uniquely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court? Bush offered this explanation: He's known her a long time and trusts her; her résumé is dotted with "first woman to …" accomplishments; she helped him select John G. Roberts; he is confident that she won't change as a judge; and he liked the idea of nominating someone who hadn't served as a judge before.

What about critics who say that Miers' credentials don't come close to those of John Roberts'? "I would ask them to watch the hearings of Harriet Miers," Bush said. "I think they will become as impressed with her as I have become. She is plenty bright. She, uh, as I mentioned earlier, was a pioneer in Texas."

And as a bonus, here's David Horsey's cartoon from today's Seattle P-I:


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