Jennifer Biddison

By now we’ve all heard the voices of leading conservative commentators – Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Manny Miranda, George Will, among others – rise up in protest against President Bush’s nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court. What has been overlooked, however, are the thoughtful voices of the conservative movement’s most respected think tanks.

Since little is known about Miers, many organizations have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach. Still, a surprising number of scholars are boldly speaking out against a nomination that they believe betrays the core principles of the conservative movement.

The first complaint is that Miers is far from the “best qualified person in the United States,” as President Bush argued in his October 4 press conference.  Conservatives are very familiar with many of the other candidates once said to be on the president’s short list, and Miers’s corporate law background simply doesn’t match up with the constitutional qualifications of well-respected judges like Janice Rogers Brown.

Randy Barnett, a Cato Institute senior fellow and Boston University law professor noted that “nothing in Harriet Miers’s professional background called upon her to develop considered views on the extent of congressional powers, the separation of powers, the role of judicial precedent, the importance of states in the federal system, or the need for judges to protect both the enumerated and unenumerated rights retained by the people.”  
Continuing, Barnett described the Supreme Court as the “big leagues of the legal profession,” and “Ms. Miers has never even played the judicial equivalent of high school ball, much less won a Heisman Trophy.”

Ronald J. Pestritto, a Claremont Institute fellow and University of Dallas professor, echoes Barnett’s sentiments.  “Miers’ background offers no demonstrated knowledge of or commitment to the original principles of the Constitution,” he writes.  “The Supreme Court is no place for on-the-job training in the principles of the founding or constitutional interpretation.”