Supreme Failure

Supreme Failure

Supreme Failure

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Oct. 27 2005 6:17 PM

Supreme Failure

Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw her Supreme Court nomination is the dominant topic in the blogosphere. While no one is surprised, some are speculating about the timing of the announcement, and others are looking ahead to Bush's next nominee.

Supreme Failure:Following an exit strategy that the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer elucidated last week, Harriet Miers bowed out of her Supreme Court nomination today. She cited her unwillingness to weaken the executive branch's power by giving the Senate confidential documents about her legal advice to President Bush, who said in a statement that he "reluctantly accepted" her withdrawal.

Whatever the White House's justification, bloggers of various ideologies are dwelling on her lack of qualifications. "She's to be commended for doing this. The White House made a dreadful error in nominating her, which it compounded by its ham-handed efforts in support of her candidacy, and this was perhaps the only way to ensure that it wouldn't be a complete debacle for the Bush Administration," insistsInstaPundit's libertarian law professor Glenn Reynolds. "Miers wasn't done in from a lack of conservative cred as the wingers want to believe," writesDaily Kos' liberal Markos Moulitsas. "She was done in because she simply wasn't competent to sit on the High Court and it was so painfully obvious." And impatient conservative Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters wonders, "Now can we nominate a candidate whose qualities and track record presumes we control the Senate?"

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Miers isn't utterly lacking in sympathizers. A few conservatives are lashing out at the way their side treated her. The Anchoress, a Catholic, commends Miers and criticizes "the chatterers on the right" because "their behavior over this nomination often strayed too far into personal invective and high-school sneering." Hugh Hewitt emphasizes, "I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees. … She and the president deserved much better from his allies." He also offers his suggestion for the next nominee. At Think Progress, the blog of nonpartisan think tank the American Progress Action Fund, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta notes that Miers was held to a "right-wing double standard" on abortion because she betrayed some pro-choice sympathy more than a decade ago. "No nominee should be subject to a litmus test, especially one that discriminates based on gender," he opines.

Some are wondering whether Miers' withdrawal is connected to the CIA leak investigation because indictments are expected tomorrow from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. "A more speculative interpretation of the timing of the withdrawal is that the President knows there are indictments coming down tomorrow and needs to have his base support consolidated.  He can use news of a new appointment to deflect attention from any possible bad news from the Fitzgerald investigation," suggestsReal Clear Politics' Tom Bevan. "[T]his looks like the last act by Rove before he gets tagged, telling Bush to rectify a mistake and doing something smart politically that he should have done in the first place, instead of something stupid as recommended by the hapless Andy Card," conjecturesThe Left Coaster's Steve Soto.

Those looking ahead disagree about how conservative the next nominee will have to be. The Next Hurrah's left-leaning Kagro X points out, "Pat Robertson was for Miers. Jerry Falwell was for Miers. And as we all know, James Dobson was for Miers. So, what's this 'base' that needs appeasing? Is the White House likely to throw another bone to this 'base,' after it failed so miserably to deliver?" On legal salon The Volokh Conspiracy, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr suggests that the new pick should be someone with "broad and deep support on the Right who also won't cause a revolt among Democrats." He supports Karen Williams and Michael McConnell, who "would likely be a key ally of Chief Justice John Roberts."

The American Princess' conservative Emily Zanotti thinks that Republicans should be worried: "If we believe that Miers was nominated through cronyism and through some sort of momentary lapse in wavelength with the voters, then we have no choice but to expect that the next candidate will not only be worse, but more of a compromise. Brace yourselves, Republicans, this is going to be a bumpy ride."

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RedState.org's Erick claims that White House has recently been re-examining old favorites. "Those names include Batchelder, Sykes, Williams, and Corrigan. The President, however, is not inclined to have an all female list now and Judge [Michael] McConnell's name is in play…. [A] White House friend told me two days ago that if they did withdraw the nomination, genuinely expect a base uniter."

SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston adds that it's unlikely that the new nomination will be approved anytime soon. "Thus, it is very likely that Justice O'Connor will be on the bench through at least the end of the year. And as a result, the desire of Bush followers to have O'Connor replaced before the Justices take up the new abortion cases on Nov. 30 appears to have been frustrated by Miers' withdrawal."

Many bloggers are turning to a Balkinization post from earlier in the week in which Democrat Jack Balkin outlines three post-Miers scenarios and suggests, "It is true that Bush may nominate someone even more conservative if Miers is not confirmed, but in one important sense this is beside the point. Democrats who care about the institution of the Court, and who care about the future of the Constitution, should want good people on the bench even if their views about the Constitution differ in important respects from their own."

Read more about Miers' withdrawal; visit the tongue-in-cheek Harriet Miers's Blog; read Slate's complete coverage here; Hotline has a timeline of the events leading to the withdrawal; Michelle Malkin has a roundup of conservative responses.

Got a question, comment, or suggestion? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.