Monday, October 17, 2005

Miersed in Controversy

The question of whether Harriet Miers will ever sit on the Supreme Court grows more and more iffy by the day. Time's Mike Allen reports that the White House is about to release Harriet Nomination 2.0, an all-out effort to focus on the nominee's accomplishments for the several week period prior to her planned confirmation hearings (set to start November 7). Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe have a similar piece in Newsweek.

Allen also notes that the vote count as it stands "could be as low as 52," which means some Republicans aren't fully on board or are already looking to oppose the nomination.

Meanwhile, Miers herself is set to submit a questionnaire to the Senate today, according to the New York Times. This may offer some interesting insights into her judicial philosophy. More likely, it will be a whole lot of words which amount to nothing.

The concern about "back-door deals" may be the straw that breaks this nomination's back. Senator Feinstein said yesterday on "Late Edition" "The more I hear from the far right, the more it pushes me the other way," and Senator Schumer said that he will ask Miers "whether she played any role in those whispers and nods" when he meets with her today.

Senator Chuck Hagel, who seems to be distancing himself from the nomination at warp speed, said on "Face the Nation" that criticism of Miers was not sexist, adding "We want an elite group of individuals. I'm not so sure I want my next-door neighbor, as much as I like him or her, to be on the Supreme Court because they're nice people." For Miers, ouch.

The biggest blow yet, however, may come from the Wall Street Journal, which features a piece by John Fund on Monday's editorial page. Fund, a conservative opponent of the Miers nomination, has issued a powerful shot across the bow for prospective centrist and liberal supporters of Miers. He notes that in a conference call with evangelical leaders on October 3 (the day the nomination was announced), two of her biggest backers, Texas Supreme Court judge Nathan Hecht and federal judge Ed Kinkeade, were asked "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

According to the notes of one participant, which Fund quotes, Kinkeade answered "Absolutely." Hecht then responded "I agree with that. I concur." Fund says "several people who participated in the call confirm that both jurists stated Ms. Miers would vote to overturn Roe."

This is unacceptable. If accurate, it amounts to a back-door pre-determined deal, whether sanctioned by Miers or not. She may be a nice lady and all, but I want no one on the Court who has to make deals to get there.


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