03 October 2005

The "W" stands for, "Why? Why not?"

That seems to sum up the Bush administration's attitude towards SCOTUS nominees. Whoever gets the nod has a presumption of qualification. After the search for John Roberts' background , we're right back where we started. If Roberts' record of applying the law was scant, Harriet Miers' is nonexistent; it's Blank Slate II: The Blanker. Apparently, the president's and Miers' own assurances that she'll do a good job are all that we should have to know.

No one is questioning Miers' intelligence or experience as an attorney, but, the bottom line is, she's never sat on a bench. As we heard, ad nauseum, about Roberts, writings as an attorney are representative of the client, not the author. Thus, without a record of judicial decisions and the written opinions supporting them, there's no information on which to evaluate Miers' application of the law and the Constitution other than her say-so. The only clarification (and I use that word loosely) will come from a confirmation process that permits the candidate to answer or not answer however he/she sees fit. Consequently, Miers is free to make whatever claims she wants to, in a virtual vacuum.

The scarier part is, the president has no record to go on, either. He's based his nomination on his personal experiences with Miers. Does anyone think, for a second, that she was allowed to demure on the inquiries the president put to her? That she could tell Rove or Cheney, "I'm sorry, I can't comment on an issue likely to come before the court?" What sort of assurances do you think they received?

Miers might very well make a great justice, but the fact of the matter is, there is no basis to make her case for the most important qualification for the job: the fair and impartial application of the law. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is no position to be handed to someone whose resume hinges on her own unavoidably self-serving statements.

Whether you're looking to pump gas, sell slushies, or fold sweaters at The Gap, the burden is on you to prove that you should get the job, not on the employer to justify denying you. Why should a lifetime post to the most influential court in the land be handled any differently?

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