Bashing Miers

Posted: Oct 17, 2005 12:05 AM
It is the oldest political gambit in the book: If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger. That’s exactly what they’re doing to Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers. Eggheads inside the beltway are relishing the opportunity to assail Miers for her supposed lack of intellectual credentials. Chief among their criticism: she graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School, as opposed to Harvard or Yale. Therefore, she’s in no position to shape the legal landscape, let alone occupy space in the marbled halls of the nation’s highest court.

At least, that’s the way several liberals—along with conservative columnists George Will and Ann Coulter--are telling the story. As Coulter noted in her syndicated column, “The average LSAT score at SMU Law School is 155. The average LSAT score at Harvard is 170.” The obvious implication: the intellectual gap between Harvard students and Miers is “humungous.”

For the record, SMU is an outstanding law school. Further, it was extremely rare for a southern woman in the 60’s to leave the region to go to college. Exceptions granted for old money. The fact is, Miers did pretty well for herself. Following law school, she did even better. Her record is a litany of firsts: first female hired by the prestigious Dallas law firm, Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. She went on to become the firm’s first female president. She was the first female president of the State Bar of Texas, served on the Dallas City Council and became a senior White House official. Those are impressive credentials that are just flat out being ignored because she didn’t attend an Ivy League school. This is ludicrous. Or, as Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland observed, "They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft." What a joke.

Plainly, Miers has a distinguished record. So let’s be honest about what’s really going on here. Lurking beneath all the Miers-bashing is partisan infighting over how to select judges. The Democrats refuse to acknowledge that Bush won the election and so jump at the chance to smear any of the federal Judge or Supreme Court Justices he nominates. The partisan character of the process has become so vitriolic that respected and well-qualified nominees like Miers are now being tossed out because of sheer factionalism. A partisan blood oath, not reasoned and methodical consideration, now determines who rules over our courts. At least one major implication is that the infighting will prevent nominations from going through and undermine the administration of justice in this country.

In the meantime, I can’t help but hope that Miers is carrying around with her a short list of people whose first amendment rights she intends to revoke. At the top of the list: people who sit in front of you at the movies and give away the ending just as the opening credits roll. But just slightly below them, the martini supping elitists who demand that Harvard and Yale students are open spigots of profundity; the rest of us are not. I don’t think anyone will mind not hearing from them for a while.