Featured in The New York Times today are two op-ed pieces about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Dahlia Lithwick asserts that President Bush's nomination of Miers is commensurate with his nomination of John Roberts, despite the fact that the two nominees have radically different credentials:
Justice Roberts and Ms. Miers represent a one-two punch for presidential supremacy: Justice Roberts would turn the Supreme Court into a body of nine constitutional plumbers - tinkerers around the margins with no affirmative place on the national stage. And Ms. Miers is a plumber - a perfectly competent lawyer with no national distinction. Her nomination would be an insult to the court if the court's work still mattered. But President Bush doesn't want it to matter.
Lithwick refers to Roberts as "a brilliant jurist who apparently believes the court should sit on its hands in perpetuity." She characterizes Meirs as "a place-filler," but reconciles their differences by declaring that President Bush is aiming "to render the court toothless."
The second op-ed was written by Morris B. Hoffman, who also reflects upon the role of the judiciary in the context of the Miers nomination. In reference to a recent comment by President Bush about Meirs, Hoffman entitled his article, "Ruling From the Head, Not the Heart." As with Lithwick's piece, Hoffman's focus on is not on Miers' credentials, but on her vision of the judiciary's role:
We need more judges, at all levels, who are not frustrated policymakers, who won't strain to find ambiguity in unambiguous words because they want to "do good," and who won't hesitate to go where their own principled application of the law takes them, even if (and especially if) it is a result they would not freely choose.
As the Senate takes up the nomination of Harriet Miers next month, let us hope the process sheds as much light on her views on the role of judges in the constitutional firmament as it does on her political and personal preferences, or on the value of her other qualifications.