Friday, October 28, 2005

2 cents more

While Libby is the news of the day, I thought I might take a few moments to weigh in on yesterday's withdrawl from the Supreme Court nomination porcess by Harriet Meiers. I am not a lawyer, pundit, or constitutional scholar but here is my take on what went down:
  1. I believe that is has been made apparent (and fairly so) that Harriet Meiers was an unqualified candidate for Supreme Court Justice. Having no judicial experience (as far as I know), a nearly non-existent body of published work regarding judicial and Constitutional affairs, and ties to White House Administration policies that may soon be visited by the Supreme Court (rules of interrogation, torture, etc.) there is no way she could have been approved by the Senate to sit on the highest court in the American Justice System.
  2. While, practically speaking, she should never have been nominated by Bush in the first place, it is the president's privilege to nominate whomever he sees fit for a Supreme Court vacancy. Whatever Ms. Meiers's appointment says about the president's perception of Constitutional scholarship and judical credentials, is neither here nor there.
  3. According to recent political ads by right-wing conservative groups in regards to the federal court justice nominations of Priscilla Owen (and others), all judicial nominees deserve the courtesy of an up-or-down vote. Ms. Meiers was not even afforded the courtesy of a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  4. Ms Meiers's withdrawal is a direct and immediate result of a concerted campaign effort by right-wing conservative groups who were incensed over the president's failure to nominate a polarizing idealogue with a clear track record of rulings viewed as favroable to the hardline conservative agenda in this country.

The hypcorisy and shameful politicization of this affair leaves me with even greater doubt about the state of our union. I personally don't have any problem with a judge who carries "conservative" views. I also don't have a problem with a judge who possesses "liberal" views. What does upset me is that it seems as if judicial nominees are not strictly questioned as to their views on Constitutional scholarship. Any Senator who asks whether or not a Supreme Court nominee would hypothetically overturn Roe v. Wade should be kicked in the balls.

For those concerned with the issue of abortion, the question to be asked is "What is your analysis of the Roe v. Wade decision and do you think that ruling is substantiated by legal precendent and the content of the Constitution itself?" A nominee's ability to address this question (and others like it), one way or another, based on their understanding and interpretation of Constitutional Law should be the criterion by which they are judged (no pun intended). This was not the case with the Meiers nomination, the Roberts nomination, or probably any other nomination in recent history. Nominees are constantly berated as to their personal and political philosophies and whether or no they think that the hot-button social issus of the day are "right" or "wrong."

As someone who is Pro-Choice, I would still find it difficult to vote against a qualified nominee who was able to put forward a challenging and informed opinion (based on legal scholarship) that Roe v. Wade was in fact not supported by Constitutional precedent. I may think that the termination of abortion rights would wreak great social problems, but that is not a nominees's concern. (That is for the legislators and more importantly the voters to work out.) If a nominee can demonstrate that he or she is an exceptionally competent and qualified jurist, then there should be little debate as to their ascendance to the Supreme Court.

This of course will never happen and that is a shame. From here on out we will probably see very little come out of Senate Judiciary hearings. Nominees will be forced to dodge pointed social queries and offer up white bread statements about "not predicting hypothetical rulings" and so on. In the end we will never know much about these Justices until they are sitting on the bench and by then it will be too late to do anything about it. It's sad.


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