October 03, 2005

MoveOn.org - Desperate For Dirt on Harriet Miers

MoveOn.org is desperate. President Bush has nominated an individual, who has no judicial experience (and thus, no paper trail to evidence her ideology). Yet, MoveOn.org wants to oppose the nomination. So, in a mass e-mail to its members, MoveOn.org announces that it is looking for dirt:

Dear MoveOn member,
This morning, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Miers is a long-time political appointee, campaign counsel, personal lawyer and Bush loyalist who has never served as a judge.

Ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown taught us that vital national positions must be filled with qualified candidates, not political friends with limited experience. With such a thin public record, how can Americans know Harriet Miers' approach to critical issues like corporate power, privacy and civil rights?

Right now we urgently need more information, and we need your help to get it. In the next few hours the Internet will fill with facts, anecdotes and rumors about Harriet Miers. We need your help to sort through it all, select the relevant and important details, and let us know what you find—decentralized, grassroots research.

We've set up a simple web form where you can post facts and sources that will fill out the picture on what kind of Supreme Court justice Miers would be. We'll get your research to the media, the Senate and our partner groups. This info will also be crucial in setting MoveOn's course for this nomination. Even if you just have a few minutes to spare, it could help a lot at this crucial time.

You can post facts right now at:


Hat Tip: Blogsforbush.com.

Pretty pathetic. They do not know whether the nominee is unqualified or an ideological extremist, yet they are going to assume that she is and therefore oppose her nomination. What information are they looking for. Let's see:

    • What policies did she advocate for on the Dallas City Council?
    • What was her record at the head of the scandal-ridden Texas Lottery Commission?
    • What cases did she take on while working as a corporate lawyer in private practice, and what positions did she fight for?
    • What has she written or said in and outside of her law practice about her views on constitutional issues like privacy, the “commerce clause” or equal protection?
    • White House Council Alberto Gonzales played a pivotal role in softening Americas stance on torture. What positions has Harriet Miers advocated for in the same role?
    • Has she ever publicly distanced herself from George W. Bush?
    • What are her views on environmental protections, corporate crime, and the right to choose?
    • What else should the public know about Harriet Miers?

So, they are essentially setting up a "bulletin board" full of every anti-Miers antecdote that each of its members has heard or, for that matter, has made up. Notice how such speculation is described as "fact". MoveOn.org then promises to get such rumors, speculation and smears to the media, the Senate and its affiliated groups.

Many on the right are upset about the nomination - primarily, because Miers has no established judicial track record of being a conservative. As such, conservatives have no idea whether she willl turn out to be the next Scalia (a strict constructionist and ardent conservative) or the next O'Connor (an unreliable conservative, who often was the swing vote in favor of liberal rulings). This concern is understandable. The conservatives worked hard getting out the vote so that they could elect a conservative President and a conservative Congress. Now that we have a Republican President and Congress, the conservatives are justifiably looking for payback from Bush-or, should we say fulfillment of Bush's campaign promise to nominate conservative judges.

Many on the right are looking for a fight. Many on the right see this nomination as an attempt to appease the Left.
Quite frankly, I wonder if those on the Right are jumping the gun. Conservatives know as little about Miers as MoveOn.org. For all we know, a Justice Miers could easily be the ideological equivalent of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia.
If she is ideologically conservative and a strict constructionist, then this nomination is brilliant. As the Roberts confirmation proved, the "stealth" nominee approach can work very well - it took the wind completely out of the Democrat's sails. Many Democrats voted "yes" because they simply had no information to justify a "no" vote to the public. Those that did vote against Robert were viewed as mere partisans who attempted to obstruct the confirmation of a qualified candidate. While Republicans have 55 seats in the Senate, many of those seats are not strict party loyalists (e.g., Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chaffee). If President Bush were to nominate a "known" conservative judge, it is likely that the Democrats could filibuster the nominee. Without 60 votes, the nomination would go nowhere and the Republicans would not have their conservative justice. The loss would be viewed as a huge Democratic victory.
Miers has no judicial opinions for the Left to take out of context. It will be much more difficult to label her as an "extremist" without any proof that she holds largely conservative views.
Is this appeasement of the Left? No. It is being realistic. Without invoking the nuclear option (which is misguided), the Republicans cannot bring a nomination to a vote. Does acknowledging the inability to avoid a filibuster make the President appear weak? You can certainly argue that, however, keep in mind - while Republicans have a majority, they do not have a filibuster proof majority. The previous judicial nominations proved this beyond all dispute - if it were not for the Gang of 14, many nominations would have never gone through. If the Republicans had 60 reliable seats in Congress, the analysis would be different.
If Miers is not a true conservative, then clearly, the conservatives have every right to complain and President Bush should understand that he has failed to deliver on his election promises.
At this point, I will take a "wait and see" approach towards her nomination.
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