First: It’s not true that Bush’s new nominee for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, has no judicial experience. A Legal Times article from last December disclosed that she’d been dating a member of the Texas Supreme Court for years.
Thank you thank you very much.
Second: It’ll be fun to watch journalists and analysts and partisans pore over her life to find the places she has at least suggested opinions on The Big Issues (the process is well under way: Note the AP story on Miers’s role in trying to get the American Bar Association to back off its support of abortion rights in the early 1990s; and also a New Republic blog post on a general sort of piece Miers wrote regarding gun control, crime and other social ills and their cures in 1992). We may well find out, and find out very quickly, that her nomination is the product of Lone Star cronyism and that she simply isn’t fit for the court.
But the one reason that should not disqualify her is her lack of judicial experience. The dean and several faculty members of Boalt Hall participated in a Constitution Day panel at the law school a couple weeks ago, and one of the points eloquently made by one of the professors — Jesse Choper — was how the court has gradually become unbalanced through the absence of justices who have come from backgrounds other than the bench. Choper pointed out that the current Supreme Court has shown a degree of misunderstanding and distrust of the political process and the workings of Congress. He suggested that the presence of someone like Walter Mondale, rumored to be under consideration during the Clinton years, would be immensely useful to the court’s deliberations. Of course, there’s a more direct exhibit of how effective a non-judge can be on the court: Earl Warren, who became chief justice from a purely political and prosecutorial background.
Warren, though, had been involved in electoral politics for decades by the time he went to Washington and was attorney general and governor of a key state (California) during an extremely difficult period (just before and during World War II;). Plus, he was a Norwegian American, which is an important personal attribute regardless of anything else.
Miers? I kind of doubt her people hail from the fjords, somehow. As to the rest: It’s hard to see how her resumé adds up to a Supreme Court spot. We’ll see.