There I went and said it. I've made fun of the whole affair from the jump. And I also agree that she seems to be (trying to be polite, here) more ordinary than extraordinary. Nevertheless, I support the Miers nomination. No need for me to list pros and cons. The internet is running thick with commentary wiser than mine.
But here's the thing. (Kurt Vonnegut says something like that. The thing was.)
History tells us that our system is made for everyday people. Lincoln's famous "by the people" and all that should be more than an aphorism. If Harry Truman can be president, and be remembered as a good one, then I see no reason why she can't become a Supreme Court Justice. Sitting in the Oval Office for four years is not much time to move along a learning curve, but sitting in tandem with eight other designated experts for the rest of your natural life provides both time and coaching to learn how to do the job. She didn't get to where she is without being a quick study, and after a few predictable mistakes will be as able as the next person to have an informed opinion that can be put into clear and workmanlike prose.
I have looked at a some of the writing of the Supreme Court decisions. And I have studied them in political science and history classes. What I recall most is that the Supreme Court tends to reflect a kind of national consensus, while acting as gadfly and irritant to the other two branches. They call it "legislating from the bench" but that is really an attempt by lawmakers to complain because decisions are being made in the absence of sound law-making. So who do we thank for that? By the time a bill gets through Congress and is signed into law it has been massaged by hundreds of people to the point that it's like a dog with no teeth. In some cases, it is no dog at all when a good barking watchdog would have been sufficient.
It's time the Supreme Court had a simple person of good character in their exalted midst to whom they have to 'splain things in easy to grasp language. If I were there, that's what would have to happen. If most people from the street were there, that would have to happen. And I don't think that is a bad thing.
Let's face it. The reason we need nine justices instead of eight or ten is that a tied vote is like no vote at all, and in the end the odd one is basically a tie-breaker. I have enough confidence in the other eight that they will supply more than enough gravitas to the panel. Leavening on the part of a newly appointed and confirmed Harriet Miers is just what the doctor ordered for an otherwise rarefied and overly-legalistic environment. And with the passing of time, she will become as much a legend as anyone else who bears that responsibility.
Her age? That's a red herring. Plenty of people do well into their eighties, and plenty more screw up long before fifty. Besides, if we can speak rationally about term limits for congress and limiting the president to two consecutive terms, what's the difference between that and the more certain limitations of an actuarial table? If we can pick among a host of candidates now, we can do the same thing when the next vacancy occurs.
There are more substantive issues facing the country than who will take the next vacancy on the Supreme Court. It's past time to move on to other matters.
The reason I titled this post as I did, incidentally, is that NZ Bear is polling. Harriet Miers is an underdog at this writing and I tend to root for the underdog. But after all the smoke clears, I really have to admit that in my mind character trumps expertise. I have seen it for decades among the people I have known and worked with. And my instinct tells me that I'm seeing it again with this good woman.
That's it. Take it or leave it.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Posted by Hoots at 4:48 PM