Ross Mackenzie

Explain, please, why criticism of President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court does not fit hand-in-glove with the proposition that Bush is a boob.

You know, the line holding that in contrast to such bright lights as Al Gore and John Kerry, the Bush bulb glows dim.

Indeed, that he is incompetent, the never-married Ms. Miers is a crony and a lightweight, and her appointment - ideologically - is a missed opportunity rivaling Bush I's nomination of the never-married David Souter.

Or Dwight Eisenhower's nomination of Earl Warren, Richard Nixon's of Harry Blackmun, Gerald Ford's of John Paul Stevens (even now, perhaps the court's most liberal justice) and Ronald Reagan's of the disappointing waffler Anthony Kennedy.

The Miers nomination could prove even worse - and after so much invested hope among moderates for someone who would turn the court onto a more consistently sober course, most notably on such issues as abortion, single-gender marriage and free expression.

And certainly, at first glance, Harriet Miers lacks the heft of many in the judicial monastery - e.g., J. Harvie Wilkinson, Karen Williams and Michael Luttig of the Virginia-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, or Chief Justice Leroy Hassell of the Virginia Supreme Court. She lacks bench experience and (as principally a corporate lawyer) longtime grounding in constitutional law, and in her hearings she likely will not demonstrate the dazzling erudition and legal acumen of the new chief justice, John Roberts.

But. . .

Ideology? She is not a movement conservative, which dismays primarily . . . movement conservatives who had demanded that the next court nominee be one of them.

Bench experience? She joins Earl Warren, Whizzer White, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell in boasting none; indeed, if confirmed, Miers would become, among the 54 justices confirmed since 1900, the 24th without any prior judicial experience.

Resume? Hers reads a lot like Sandra O'Connor's without the state court experience, or Lewis Powell's as a leader of legal groups (including the American Bar Association) and chairman of the Richmond School Board.

The Miers resume features these entries: at or close to the top of her undergraduate and law-school classes at Southern Methodist; law review; member of the Dallas City Council; first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, the Texas Bar Association and the Texas State Bar (some say she easily could have tracked to the presidency of the ABA, as well); the first woman hired by a leading Dallas law firm founded in the 19th century and ultimately its managing partner; named by the National Law Journal as one of the "50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America."

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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