Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws

This morning Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the SCOTUS. Her decision came just a few weeks after she was announced as the SCOTUS's next nominee. President Bush issued this statement:
Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. I nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court because of her extraordinary legal experience, her character, and her conservative judicial philosophy. Throughout her career, she has gained the respect and admiration of her fellow attorneys. She has earned a reputation for fairness and total integrity. She has been a leader and a pioneer in the American legal profession. She has worked in important positions in state and local government and in the bar. And for the last five years, she has served with distinction and honor in critical positions in the Executive Branch.

I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House – disclosures that would undermine a President’s ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers – and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her.

I am grateful for Harriet Miers' friendship and devotion to our country. And I am honored that she will continue to serve our Nation as White House Counsel. My responsibility to fill this vacancy remains. I will do so in a timely manner.
It is extremely unfortunate that Miers has withdrawn her nomination. From the beginning she was berated and criticized and she never really recovered. She certainly deserved better treatment than she received.

While there are a good number of conservative pundits who are quite satisfied with the derailment of the nomination, there are millions of everyday Republicans who supported the Miers nomination. Many of these members of the party's base believe that her withdrawal came as a result of arrogant and elitist criticism of the conservative punditry that was so happy to hear that Miers was stepping down. The nomination, even as it is withdrawn, has needlessly created division in the Republican party.

But from this point the party must lick its wounds and move forward as united body.

The problem surrounding the Miers nomination began with the president committing himself to naming a "diversity nominee." As I have said, there are certainly some extremely qualified nominees out there, who deserve serious consideration for a nomination to the SCOTUS despite their background. Gender or ethnicity should not be a factor in choosing the next nominee. It is my hope that the president will leave the diversity issue for another time, and simply choose the best person for the job.

We know now that the next nominee is going to come under real and serious scrutiny, and so it makes sense to choose one who has recently been subjected to an FBI background check. The SCOTUS is also considering a number of important decisions in the very near future, so the sooner we can get the next nominee on the court, the better.

Hugh Hewitt believes that these qualifications lead us straight to Judge Michael McConnel --whom I think would be quite well-suited for the job-- but that Judge Luttig and Judge Jones should also be near the top of the president's potential nominees list.

Nonetheless, the president's choice must re-unite the party in a way that gets both the elite punditry and the rank and file base on board in support of the nomination. Furthermore, the Republican congressional majorities need to act as if they are indeed majorities, strongly support the president in his decision, and push his next nominee on through to the SCOTUS.