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October 20, 2005

The best(?) argument in support of Harriet Miers

The morning blogosphere buzz around Harriet Miers, as a result of this Wall Street Journal commentary by Ronald Cass and Kenneth Starr, concerns her experience with business law issues.  Cass and Starr say they "value [Miers'] significant experience in business law."  But Gordon Smith over at the Conglomerate in this post thoroughly and effectively argues that "her nomination hardly merits praise for bolstering the Court's business law expertise. If that were the primary goal, I suspect that President Bush could have found hundreds of more qualified candidates."

Meanwhile, Ann Althouse and her commentors are here exploring reasons given to support the Miers' nomination.  Ann's post and the comments are an interesting read, but no one there — or anywhere else, including in the White House — has hit upon what I view as the best argument in support of Miers' nomination: Harriet Miers, as a result of her work on improving legal services for the poor and aiding prisoner re-entry, has had distinct experience and likely has a distinctive perspective on important modern criminal justice issues.

I am personally torn over the Miers' nominations.  Her qualifications and talents seem so uninspiring; and yet I believe — or at least want to believe — that her distinctive (though limited) experiences in the criminal justice arena could make her a valuable addition to a Supreme Court that is necessarily far removed from the day-to-day realities and systemic problems of the modern criminal justice system.

Of course, in these law-and-order times, it comes as no surprise that this White House is not promoting Miers' work on behalf of the ultimate "little guy" — poor persons accused and convicted of criminal wrong-doing.  Nevertheless, since nearly half of the Supreme Court's docket involves criminal cases or related issues, I continue to believe Miers' work in the criminal justice arena should be a significant part of the public dialogue over her nomination.  I thus remain quite disappointed that neither the mainstream media or blogosphere has given serious attention to these issues.   

I will, of course, continue to tilt at these windmills, hopeful that the quest for new angles on Miers will eventually lead others to start exploring criminal justice issues.  As I have suggested before,  broader public examination of the criminal justice system in the context of the Miers' nomination could be very interesting: in part because of all the buzz about Miers' religion and how this background might bespeak a new right on sentencing issues, such an examination holds some hope of avoiding the usual knee-jerk right/left discussion of being tough or soft on crime.

Some related prior posts:

October 20, 2005 at 12:52 PM | Permalink


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