A lot of discussion has ensued over whether Harriet Miers would be a proponent of overturning Roe v. Wade if confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court. Indeed, for many, this is an extremely important because some see this as the single most important issue a Justice may influence. I believe, however, that those who focus on this issue are doing themselves, Miers, and their country a disservice. It is imperative to realize that the influence of a Justice is farmore sweeping than simply the question of abortion rights.
While not directly criticizing Miers at the moment (I’ll do that later), I believe one must review the overall qualifications and integrity of a Justice long before reviewing philosophy, ideology, and theology, and certainly well before considering the potential Justice’s view on individual issues. Why concern ourselves with these areas, qualifications and integrity, before those which would seem to have a more direct application to decisions and opinions? While philosophy, ideology, and theology may have a much more direct impact on a Justice’s influence, it is my assertion that without well established qualifications and integrity, that we cannot be certain if there will be any consistency to the application of one’s philosophy, ideology, and theology.
What does this mean, exactly? If a potential Justice is not an expert at handling herself on the bench, then how can she be expected to follow use her philosophy to, from the bench, ask the driving questions that might both confirm her views, and sway the views of other Justices? If her moral character is in question, if we must question her integrity, then how can we be assured that her personal views or philosophies will hold throughout her term, or even for a moment? And if these assurances cannot be made with some degree of confidence, then why would even bother having a discussion about personal views, philosophy, ideology, or even theology?
So then, let’s briefly examine Miers’ qualifications and integrity. On the qualifications end, about twenty to thirty years ago, Miers had clerked for a court, spent a good bit of time in a court room representing corporations, and has led a good-sized law firm. Since then, she’s been the president of the State Bar of Texas, sat on the Dallas City Council, worked as general counsel for George W. Bush, and been Bush’s personal lawyer. More recently, she’s chaired the Texas Lottery Commission, acted as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary, has been appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, and has acted as chief legal adviser to the Office of the President.
That’s quite a resume, and I’d certainly like to have accomplished as much as she has by the time I’m her age. But regardless, the question that I raise: Is she qualified? Should someone who has never sat on a bench be appointed to the highest court? Should a man who has never held a gun or led a platoon be appointed as General to an army? Should a supervisor of judges at Arabian horse shows be appointed to direct FEMA? Every day I draw breath, I understand more and more that there is absolutely no substitute for direct experience. Unfortunately Miers has none.
Looking at Miers’ integrity, one does not have to look far to question it. Certainly the appointment of an individual who acted as the President’s personal lawyer to position after position smacks of cronyism. While the appointment to the Supreme Court is the opportunity of a life-time (literally), if I were put in a similar situation, I’d like to think I’d turn the position down, understanding that other personal influences, aside from my qualifications, were a factor in the decision to nominate me. Indeed, I think any individual with a decent sense of integrity should do the same.
I can find further fault with Miers integrity by looking back at her tenure at the Texas Lottery Commission. Hired to clean up a previous corruption scandal, Miers was later sued in a scandal over the firing of Lawrence Littwin, the executive director of the Lottery Commission, when he tried to hold the politically connected contractor, GTech, accountable for millions of dollars for breaches of contract. Miers eventually resigned from the Commission a year before her term ended. She claimed other reasons for her resignations. Who wouldn’t?
Is Miers’ legal philosophy, ideology, or theology aligned with what I believe would make a good candidate? The fact is, it doesn’t matter. Her lack of experience and integrity simply adds up to a very questionable candidate. Would Miers overturn Roe v. Wade? With her integrity in question, who knows what she’d do. Could Miers be effective? Without experience, I doubt it.