Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Judges Are Not Supposed to Be Political

President Bush announced his nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – Harriet Miers. Ms. Miers was Bush’s personal lawyer before he became President. She was President Bush’s staff secretary and also White House counsel. Ms. Miers boasts an accomplished legal career and she was a pioneering female lawyer. In 1972, Ms. Miers was the first woman hired by her law firm, Dallas’s Locke Purnell Rain Harrell; in 1985, she was the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association; in 1992, she was the first woman president of the Texas State Bar; and, in 1996, she was the first woman president of her law firm. An accomplished lawyer, she practiced law in Texas for a number of years, so she has practical experience. As a trial litigator, she represented such clients as Microsoft, Walt Disney Co. and SunGard Data Systems Inc. However, she has never served as a judge. There have been nineteen other Supreme Court justices who never served as judges prior to serving on the Supreme Court. Justice Rehnquist was one of them.

Since Ms. Miers has no judicial record, it is difficult to discern what her views are. She is a “blank slate.” Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid has expressed approval, and most Republicans have praise for her, but other Democrats say that she needs to be forthcoming with answers, so they can learn more about her. Special interest groups, such as the conservative group Public Advocate, the conservative Third Branch Conference, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood, have not received her well. If she is a friend of Bush and if she is on Bush’s staff, I would assume she is rather conservative, but, since she has not sat as a judge, she has no “paper trail.”

Judges are not supposed to be political. Judges personal views should not affect their decisions on the bench. Their responsibility is to interpret and apply the Constitution and the laws. Why should a nominee’s views on “hot button” issues be a subject of inquiry by the Senate? Rather, the nominee’s ability as an attorney or judge should be the focus of confirmation hearings. A nominee’s positions on abortion, gay rights, or affirmative action, about which one numbnut reporter inquired, are nonissues, as far as I am concerned. Ms. Miers or Justice Roberts is not going to take the bench and then promptly overrule Roe v. Wade. The senators and the special interest groups, who complain about “judicial activism,” are trying to seat justices who will rule on issues in ways that are consistent with the senators’ and interest groups’ beliefs. Justices who rule based on their personal opinions, which the individuals who are so concerned with the nominees’ political ideologies are seeking, have no place on the Court. A nominee should be selected and confirmed based on his or her ability as a lawyer or a jurist and on his or her ability to apply the law impartially.


  • do you think the current supreme court justices are going to be upset that some punk ass is their chief justice, and now some never-been-a-judge counsel will be one of their peers? think they'll haze them as though it's freshman friday? will roberts find icy hot in his jock strap? will miers be forced to french kiss a coke machine?

    By Blogger kari, at 7:39 AM, October 04, 2005  

  • and, by "punk ass," i mean "young whippersnapper."

    By Blogger kari, at 7:39 AM, October 04, 2005  

  • I was looking for a new job last night and I somehow ended up at Baker Botts' website where I discovered that former (retired) Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice, Tom Phillips just joined BB as a litigator. Interesting, I thought.

    By Blogger Ashley, at 7:57 PM, October 04, 2005  

  • Molly Ivins says that Harriet Miers “is the fifth vote on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Ivins calls Miers, “like Bush himself… classic Texas conservative Establishment, with the addition of Christian fundamentalism.”

    By Blogger Matthew, at 5:11 PM, October 06, 2005  

  • George Will makes a convincing argument why Ms. Miers should not be confirmed.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 4:40 AM, October 08, 2005  

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