Back in August, I somewhat tepidly endorsed John Roberts:
Is Roberts really such a bad nominee? His record of arguing before the USSC, plus a bit of time as an appelate court judge, seem to make him well-qualified. And at least by Owen and Rogers-Brown standards, he’s not a giant nutbag.
My thinking at the time was that, for better or worse, he was and is fully qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. While I expect to disagree with many or most of his views, this is a democracy, Republicans control the Senate and the White House, and so absent turpitude or lack of qualifications, there’s not much in the way of grounds for opposition.
Simply put, Roberts was an instance of views with which I disagree, but a background and intellect that are impressive.
Now I face the exact opposite scenario: a background and intellect that seem to fall short of Supreme Court standards(*), but views that I may well find less objectionable than Roberts’. If I am to be consistent, do I oppose or not oppose Miers? I’m leaning towards the former.
(*) To be perfectly clear, I do not mean that Miers’ background and intellect are sub-par in any traditional sense. In fact, I’m with Kieran — most likely, she is a very “competent and probably a pretty tough person.” However, she has no time on the bench, no discernible background in constitutional law, and no record (e.g., publications) of spending much time contemplating constitutional law.
To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.
It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.