President George W. Bush on Monday nominated a member of his inner circle, White House counsel Harriet Miers, for a Supreme Court vacancy, choosing a woman with plenty of legal experience but who is not a judge to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor.
Miers, 60, a longtime ally of Bush's going back to his days as Texas governor, would be the third woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. (Reuters)
I'm skeptical of appointing anyone to the Supreme Court who has never served as a judge. Everyone has to start somewhere -- but few start at the Supreme Court. However, lack of experience in that arena is not necessarily a disqualifying factor. Chief Justice Rehnquist was not a judge prior to his appointment, while Ruth Bader Ginsberg served as a judge for over a decade prior to her appointment. Understanding and properly interpreting the Constitution has little to do with how many years one has served as a judge.
While we don't know much about the new nominee, Bush does. With that said, I can't tell whether that is a good or bad thing. Is she a better choice than all of the potential Justices that he did not nominate? Who knows?
Judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court, are supposed to be free of political influence. Their decisions should be made solely to comply with the Constitution, and not to answer to politicians whose incentive is to manipulate the Constitution for their own purposes. Harriet Miers may be intelligent and may have good intentions, but as former White House counsel and a close ally of Bush, will her rulings be free of political influence and consistently in line with the Constitution? Again, who knows?
Harriet Miers might be stellar, and she might not. At this point, there's just no way to tell.