Conservative Republicans (the qualifier is necessary) and many Democrats (oddly enough) got their wish today as Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court. Apparently borrowing Charles Krauthammer’s Exit Strategy both President Bush and Ms. Miers pointed to Executive privilege as the reason for her withdrawal.
In posts on the 8th and again on the 12th of this month I mourned the lost opportunity of debate that a conservative, pro-life nominee would have brought to the Senate. I hoped that it would lead to a more general debate of Roe v. Wade among the general populace. Well, it looks as though I will get my wish.
I understand why many conservatives are happy with her withdrawal. What I don’t understand is why many Democrats are also glad she is out. Everything I have read seems to indicate that she is moderate to liberal on many social issues (despite Dr. Dobson’s claims). What’s more, her judicial philosophy trends in the direction of judicial activism. The following comes from comments Miers made about the involvement of the court in a Texas education funding dispute.
“At the time [of the speech], Texas was embroiled in an education funding dispute. The Texas Supreme Court had threatened to shut off most school funding if the legislature could not quickly devise a plan for fair funding. Some lawmakers pushed to remove school funding from the court’s jurisdiction.
But Miers blamed the legislators for what she called an “unacceptable” school funding plan and for ducking tough issues such as imposing a state income tax.
“My basic message here is that when you hear the courts blamed for activism or intrusion where they do not belong, stop and examine what the elected leadership has done to solve the problem at issue,” she said.
At a speech later that summer titled “Women and Courage,” Miers went further. Citing statistics that showed Texas’s relatively high poverty rates, Miers said the public should not blame judges when courts step in to solve such problems.
“Allowing conditions to exist so long and get so bad that resort to the courts is the only answer has not served our state well,” she said. “Politicians who would cry ‘The courts made me do it’ or ‘I did not do that–the courts did’ should not be tolerated.”
This type of judicial involvement ventures into ground held by elected legislators. We have a term for that–legislating from the bench–and it certainly doesn’t abide a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
Credit Dems if their relief over her withdrawal is because of her lack of experience and qualifications. However, if they were disappointed because she was too conservative, they had better prepare for more of the same, as President Bush will no doubt nominate someone with a more conservative view of Constitutional interpretation. And if, as I predict (and hope) President Bush nominates someone who is more open in their opposition to Roe v. Wade, they (Dems) had better prepare themselves for a battle royal.