The confirmation of Harriet Miers appears almost as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Whether or not Miers is ultimately confirmed, the way that some have chosen to oppose her and the way some have chosen to react to that opposition, has resulted in hard feelings among conservatives. What is even more unfortunate, however, is the effect some of the arguments and tactics used in the battle over Miers may have on future judicial nominations.
Beginning the day the nomination was announced, many conservatives reacted with intense emotion. In fact, due to the unexpected nature of the announcement, most early opposition to Miers seems to have consisted more of passion than of plans for action. Three weeks later, it appears that the end result desired by many who opposed her on that first day may come to pass. Whatever the result, the tactics used by many in opposition to the nomination have set precedents that may make the confirmation of future nominees more difficult, or at the very least, more complicated.
Some of the proposed qualification requirements include that the nominee needs to have been a judge or have an extensive paper trail equivalent to a judge, have only attended a top tier law school and have not been personally known to the president.
From the day of the announcement, I have been in what some have called the “wait and see” camp. My initial decision came effortlessly, because for over four years, Republicans have told Democrats that the president is entitled to his choice of judicial nominees and that each of those nominees should be given a fair hearing and an up or down vote.
As some of Miers’ past positions on affirmative action and other issues came into question, I became curious to hear her explanations. I have come to believe that the conventional wisdom, which says hearings reveal nothing, might just be dead wrong. Past hearings have consisted of those in the president’s party tossing a few softball questions and spending the rest of their time defending the nominee, while the Democrats made vanity speeches, asked “gotcha” questions and occasionally even let the nominee attempt to answer. I believe the Miers hearing will be much different.