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Its Time For This Nightmare To End

by @ 11:45 am on October 21, 2005. Filed under Harriet Miers, Supreme Court

Yet more distressing developments in the Harriet Miers train wreck.

From today’s Washington Times, comes the news that the White House is pulling the plug on the nominee’s meetings with Senators despite the fact that she has only met with about 1/4 of the men and women who will be voting on her nomination.

Apparently, things have not been going well:

The meetings have been fraught with misunderstandings and disagreements, giving ammunition to detractors, both liberal and conservative, that Miss Miers is in over her head.

“No one is walking out of these meetings thinking they’ve just met with a star,” a Republican Judiciary staffer said yesterday.

For example:

Her meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter this week particularly did not go well.

After the meeting, the Pennsylvania Republican told reporters that she had told him that the constitution contains a “right to privacy,” which is the foundation for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.

After the White House was asked for a response, Miss Miers telephoned Mr. Specter and told him that he had misunderstood and that she had said no such thing.

And the disappointment is bipartisan:

After meeting with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, he told reporters that he was underwhelmed by the nominee.“Based on what I heard in the office, I couldn’t tell you how I would vote on Harriet Miers because she offered very, very little in terms of her own experience in government and very, very little on her judicial philosophy,” he said.

Mr. Schumer said he asked Miss Miers about one seminal case in particular and she declined to discuss it. “I’m going to give her a break. “She never purported to be a constitutional lawyer. But she clearly needs some time to learn about these cases.”

Schumer and Specter are both blowhards in their own ways, but neither of these stories bode well for Miers given what, or should I say how little, we know about her judicial philosphy and qualifications to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

And it gets worse. The questionaire that Harriet Miers completed for the Senate Judiciary Committee has been made public. As several bloggers have pointed out, the quality of the responses is very troubling. Over at The Q&O Blog, there’s an in-depth examination of Miers’ answers and a not-very-flattering comparison with those given by Roberts.

Meanwhile, Charles Kruathammer says that the White House needs to think of an exit strategy quickly. He believes that the perfect opportunity will arise when the Senate makes the inevitable request for documents related to Miers’ work at the White House.

For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information — “policy documents” and “legal analysis” — from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.That creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege.

Hence the perfectly honorable way to solve the conundrum: Miers withdraws out of respect for both the Senate and the executive’s prerogatives, the Senate expresses appreciation for this gracious acknowledgment of its needs and responsibilities, and the White House accepts her decision with the deepest regret and with gratitude for Miers’s putting preservation of executive prerogative above personal ambition.

Faces saved. And we start again.

Personally, I find it unlikely that the White House will take this excellent advice.

Update: If this report is true, then there will be no withdrawal and we are headed for a train wreck in about two weeks.

Linked with today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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