President Bush’s choice of White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court is receiving praise from both Republicans and Democrats today, while bringing guarded optimism and some outright opposition from conservative groups.
Predictably, The Republican National Committee has released a statement listing several comments from various pundits, lawmakers and activists.
“I Like Harriet Miers. As White House counsel she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner,” stated Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate minority leader. “I am also impressed with the fact that [Miers] was a trailblazer for women as a managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association.”
The RNC also highlighted the comments of media analyses, including NBC’s Tim Russert, who commented today: ” Historically … of the 110 people who have sat on the Supreme Court, only half have been sitting judges when selected. … History is filled with people with backgrounds similar To Harriet Miers.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, today said he sees Miers’ lack of experience as a judge as an asset, believing she will bring a fresh perspective to the high court.
Added Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: “[W]hen I choose judges In New York, I look for practical experience. And so the fact that she hasn’t been a judge before, to me is actually a positive, not a negative.”
Miers got a warm reception on Capitol Hill today, meeting with Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Commented Frist: “With this selection, the president has chosen another outstanding nominee to sit on our nation’s highest court. Ms. Miers is honest and hard-working and understands the importance of judicial restraint and the limited role of a judge to interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.”
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative law group, had high praise for Miers.
“Once again, President Bush showed exceptional judgment in naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice O’Connor,” said Sekulow in a statement. “At a time when the high court is facing some of the most critical issues of the day – including a number of cases dealing directly with abortion and life issues – the person who replaces Justice O’Connor is critical.
“Harriet Miers is an excellent choice with an extraordinary record of service in the legal community and is certain to approach her work on the high court with a firm commitment to follow the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been privileged to work with her in her capacity as White House counsel. She is bright, thoughtful, and a consummate professional, and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination.”
Sekulow said his organization is ready to mount a campaign in support of Miers, as it did with Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation process. ACLJ’s radio program reaches 1.5 million listeners each week.
“We know the intentions of the liberal left – to do anything possible to derail this nominee,” said Sekulow. “We are prepared to meet those challenges head on and ensure that this battle ends with the confirmation of Harriet Miers as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.”
Not all conservative organizations are as enthusiastic as ACLJ. Concerned Women for America released a statement saying it was taking a “wait and see” approach.
“We give Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt because thus far, President Bush has selected nominees to the federal courts who are committed to the written Constitution,” said Jan LaRue, CWA’s chief counsel. “Whether we can support her will depend on what we learn from her record and the hearing process.”
Also taking a cautious approach is Family Research Council.
Stated FRC President Tony Perkins: “President Bush has long made it clear that his choices for the U.S. Supreme Court would be in the mold of current justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. We have no reason to believe he has abandoned that standard. However, our lack of knowledge about Harriet Miers and the absence of a record on the bench give us insufficient information from which to assess whether or not she is indeed in that mold.
“In the days to come, Harriet Miers will have the chance to demonstrate such a philosophy. We will be watching closely as the confirmation process begins, and we urge American families to wait and see if the confidence we have always placed in the President’s commitment is justified by this selection.”
The right-wing organization Public Advocate was less diplomatic, coming out in strong opposition to Miers.
Said the group’s president, Eugene Delgaudio: “The president’s nomination of Miers is a betrayal of the conservative, pro-family voters whose support put Bush in the White House in both the 2000 and 2004 elections and who were promised Supreme Court appointments in the mold of Thomas and Scalia. Instead we were given ‘stealth nominees,’ who have never ruled on controversial issues, more in the mold of the disastrous choice of David Souter by this president’s father.
“When there are so many proven judges in the mix, it is unacceptable this president has appointed a political crony with no conservative credentials. This attempt at ‘Bush Packing’ the Supreme Court must not be allowed to pass the Senate, and we will forcefully oppose this nomination.”
Similarly, Operation Rescue has come out in opposition to Miers.
“We must reject the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
“President Bush promised that he would appoint strong constitutional constructionist to the Supreme Court in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, but Miers is no Thomas or Scalia. We must be given a nominee that will restore the protections of personhood to the pre-born. If your head was about to be crushed, would you want to trust you life to someone who will not state their position on your murder?”
Some analysts see the choice of Miers as a safe pick made by a president who doesn’t want an all-out battle before the U.S. Senate.
“It looks like he flinched,” commented Fox News analyst Bill Kristol. “It looks like a capitulation.”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, thanked Bush for the Miers nomination.
“Our prayers are with Harriet Miers this morning as she begins this important process,” Pavone said in a statement. “We trust the president’s judgment and his determination to fulfill his promises about the kind of justices he wants to see on the court.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney spoke on Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program today, assuring the host that Miers was a good choice.
‘I’m confident that she has a conservative judicial philosophy that you will be comfortable with, Rush …” said Cheney. “You will be proud of Harriet’s record. Trust me.”
Some of the concern from critics is based in part on the fact Miers contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes in the late ’80s.
As WorldNetDaily reported, in November 1988, the nominee gave $1,000 to the DNC Services Corporation/Democratic National Committee. In February of that year, she donated $1,000 to then-Sen. Al Gore’s presidential primary race. And in March 1987, Miers gave $1,000 to the primary campaign of Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who went on to become Michael Dukakis’ running mate in the 1988 presidential election.
While the Miers pick fulfills Bush’s pledge to bring diversity to the court, Hispanic groups are upset he did not choose one of their own.
“President Bush has again ignored highly qualified Latino judges, attorneys and law professors who could serve the nation ably on the United States Supreme Court,” Ann Marie Tallman, executive director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told the Washington Post.
Several Hispanics were thought to be on Bush’s short list for the high-court nomination.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., while happy that a woman was nominated, was guarded in her comments.
“While I am pleased the president has named a woman to succeed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor,” said Feinstein, the only woman on the Judiciary Committee, “it remains critically important that the Senate Judiciary Committee, and, indeed, the American people learn more about her positions on some of the most important issues facing our nation.”