Quote of the Day, part 2

In the face of criticism from the left and right, President Bush insisted Tuesday that Harriet Miers is the nation’s best-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court and assured skeptical conservatives that his lawyer-turned-nominee shares his judicial philosophy — and always will.

Folks, George W. Bush doesn’t have a judicial philosophy. He has a set of catchphrases fed to him by his handlers and he thinks those catchphrases refer to a judicial philosophy, and that’s as close as he gets to having one. I’d pay big money to see the President try and explain, without cue cards, the distinction between judging and “legislating from the bench”, or delineate the difference between original intent and original understanding. His babbling would be interrupted only by smirking.

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  • Grumpy

    I’d think that his former White House counsel — the guy who was qualified enough to become Attorney General, and a former justice — might dispute the “best qualified candidate” claim. Him, at the very least (assuming he even wants the job).

    I swear this all has the look of a feint tactic — perhaps even suggested by Miers herself.

  • Grumpy

    One other thing…

    Another quote today was Dan Bartlett explaining that Bush hasn’t asked Miers about issues like abortion or gay marriage because he doesn’t believe in litmus tests. He’s known this woman for over a decade, and they’ve never discussed these subjects??

  • http://www.stcynic.com/blog/ Ed Brayton

    Grumpy wrote:

    Another quote today was Dan Bartlett explaining that Bush hasn’t asked Miers about issues like abortion or gay marriage because he doesn’t believe in litmus tests. He’s known this woman for over a decade, and they’ve never discussed these subjects??

    Oh, those lines are always good for a laugh. Anyone who thinks that the President doesn’t have a damn good idea where any potential candidate stands on abortion is delusional beyond belief. And all talk of “litmus tests” from both parties is nonsense. They all have litmus tests, and they damn well should.

  • oolong

    I’ve never understood the whole “we don’t want folks legislating from the bench” stuff. If this is true, and it means “we don’t want people bringing in their politics into the court” then why are Bush’s nominees always conservatives? Why are the people on the right who so vehemently pound the table with that talk at the same time always pounding the table for a court nominee with the right conservative credentials? I mean come on. Are we to believe that only conservatives wouldn’t bring their politics into the court? Is that the reason they can do both consistently?

  • raj

    This rhetoric about “legislating from the bench” is idiotic. That’s where the “common law” came from–the bench. More than a bit of the common law has been subsequently codified, but it originated from the bench.

  • Mark

    Miers is the best qualified person in the country? I had no idea that the condition of the legal profession was so bad.

  • raj

    Miers is the best qualified person in the country?

    Mark, I’m a lawyer. (I also have a background in physics) I find American lawyers some of the dumbest people on the planet. Not all, of course, but more than a few.

    That said, I live in Massachusetts. This nomination strikes me as being almost equivalent of the tactics that Democrats used to do here in MA: claim to do a nationwide search for the best person for appointment and we found him (or in this case, her) just down the hall.

    The difference in the MA Dem’s case is that these were not for lifetime appointments. They were for appointments to administrative agencies. (The Republicans here in MA engage in the same tactics, by the way, which is why the “Big Dig” has become the “Big Disarray.”

    So, in Roberts’s case we have a 50 year old male who has two very minor adopted children. It’s nice that he adopted them, but one wonders (a) what took him so long, and (b) are these just intended as props?

    In Mier’s case, we have a woman apparently in her 60s who has never been married and has no children.

    These situations are not normal. That combined with Condalezza (sp?) Rice, who has also never been married, leads me to wonder what the heck is going on with this Bush administration. It is very strange.

  • spyder

    “These situations are not normal. That combined with Condalezza (sp?) Rice, who has also never been married, leads me to wonder what the heck is going on with this Bush administration. It is very strange.”

    The conspiratorial speculation alone is almost too fun.

  • Tanooki Joe

    I thought the best part was the last bit — that Miers “always will” share the same view as the president. The next words out of his mouth should be “cause that is what we programmed her to do.”

  • http://japple.freeshell.org Jim Apple

    In Mier’s case, we have a woman apparently in her 60s who has never been married and has no children.

    These situations are not normal. That combined with Condalezza (sp?) Rice, who has also never been married, leads me to wonder what the heck is going on with this Bush administration. It is very strange.

    So, are you a troll, or are you just being funny? What does being married have to do with qualifications?

  • http://www.stcynic.com/blog/ Ed Brayton

    Yeah, I have to dissent from raj’s comment as well. There are good reasons to oppose Miers’ nomination, but I don’t think the fact that she’s not married has anything to do with it, nor with anything involving Condoleeza Rice. Indeed, I can’t imagine why a gay man, of all people, would want to draw attention to someone having a non-standard lifestyle as an argument against them for a job. I don’t think the fact that Souter has never been married matters, and I don’t think the fact that Miers has never been married matters either. Only their competence matters.

  • Pieter B

    This rhetoric about “legislating from the bench” is idiotic. That’s where the “common law” came from–the bench. More than a bit of the common law has been subsequently codified, but it originated from the bench.

    I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that when a case comes before the Supreme Court, both sides have pretty good arguments, and it’s the job of The Body Formerly Known As The Nine Old Men to decide which arguments carry more weight. In doing so, they “make law” every time they rule. Am I oversimplifying things?

  • pensy

    It’s ironic how much she has changed, from the New York Times:

    “[By 1979, Miers] decided that she wanted faith to be a bigger part of her life,” Justice Hecht, who now serves on the Texas Supreme Court, said in an interview. “One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment” to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and be born again, he said. He walked down the hallway from his office to hers, and there amid the legal briefs and court papers, Ms. Miers and Justice Hecht “prayed and talked,” he said.

    She was baptized not long after that, at the Valley View Christian Church.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/05/politics/politicsspecial1/05miers.html

    She went from being a Democrat to being a Republican. She went from being a Roman Catholic to being a fundamentalist Protestant. She went from donating to Democrats to donating to anti-abortion groups.

    My problem is the little matter of the
    Constitution, Article VI, 3. “. . . shall be
    bound by oath or affirmation to support
    this Constitution; but no religious test
    shall ever be required as a qualification
    to any office or public trust under the
    United States.”

  • raj

    Pieter B at October 5, 2005 07:41 PM

    Pieter, most cases do not come before the Supreme Court. Most cases stop at the trial court level, or at the most, before an appeals court level. And, at most, the cases need an innocuous “rule” so that subsequent litigants can figure out what the “rule” is. That is basically what “common law” is.

    Yes, it is and was legislation from the bench. Why? Because the legislature cannot foresee all contingencies regarding cases brought before them.

    Yes, as far as I can tell, in most instances in which the judges have “legislated from the bench,” the legislation from the bench has been codified by the legialature. Politicians who bitch and moan about legislation from the bench are just complaining about Common Law, which is the source of most law in our legal heritage.

  • KeithB

    And of course, based on my understanding of what is going in the Oregon Mercy-Killing law, the Bush administration is *asking* the court to legislate from the bench in order to win the case. They want to take a law intended to prevent drug abuse and have the court broaden it farther than Congress inteneded to apply it to doctors prescribing permanent pain relief.

    I would really like to guestion Bush on this one!

  • http://www.stcynic.com/blog/ Ed Brayton

    Keith-

    And that’s just the beginning of the contradictions here. Remember all the rhetoric from the right every time a court rules in a way they disagree with? “Judicial Tyranny!” is screamed from every mountaintop – “unelected judges” are “subverting the will of the people.” Until the people pass a law they don’t agree with, like the California stem cell initiative, the California medical marijuana initiative, or this Oregon assisted suicide bill. All three were passed directly by popular referendum, and conservatives rushed right into court to have those evil “unelected judges” overturn “the will of the people” as soon as they were passed.

    That is exactly why I don’t take the right’s rhetoric about “judicial activism” seriously. It means nothing to them other than “judges doing things I don’t like”. When the shoe is on the other foot, they love activist judges.

  • KeithB

    But in this case, it is not a Generic “Right Wing” but the stated legal argument of an Administration that cries out for “Strict Constructionism!”

    It is a good thing I am not going to be able to ask the question. I don’t see how I could phrase it without using the word “hypocrite.”