Friday, January 23, 2009

Now that my Huge Important Work Project is winding down, hopefully I'll have some energy to bring you more funny history.

Today I spent some time reading up on G. Harrold Carswell, Nixon's second failed nominee to the Supreme Court slot left vacant by Abe Fortas in 1970. Carswell was an utterly mediocre judge with an objectionable civil rights record, and he was summarily rejected by the Senate, 51-45. He had his share of supporters, though, especially among Southerners and Republicans.

Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska said this about Carswell: "There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos and stuff like that there."

...yeah. For the highest court in the nation, someone thought we needed to make sure mediocrity is represented. Although now that I think of it, that line of reasoning might go a small distance toward explaining Harriet Miers.

Let's hope our new president likes the idea of having all Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos, just in case he's got the opportunity to nominate some and stuff like that there.


Unknown said...

I think you're misreading the whole Harriet Miers thing. It was actually a brilliant piece or strategy/trickery (or strategory) by Bush. Well, maybe brilliant is the wrong word. It was an obvious strategy, which was so obvious that I was a little surprised that the Senate Democrats were dumb enough to fall for it.

Based on political reality, it was clear that the Senate Democrats would find a reason to block whoever Bush nominated, simply because they don't like Bush and wouldn't want him to get his first choice. But they couldn't keep blocking nominees forever, so Bush's second choice would have a much better chance of being confirmed.

What Bush did is offer up a sacrificial lamb with a huge obvious low-hanging fruit of a flaw: The fact that she was wildly unqualified and had no experience whatsoever.

The Democrats took the bait, and made all sorts of statements about how they weren't blocking her based on ideology, but simply because of her lack of experience.

So Bush withdrew the nomination and instead nominated Alito, a hard-core conservative with experience coming out the wazoo, who he had wanted all along. And the Senate Democrats felt dumb.

Jess said...

And I think YOU'RE misreading a throwaway one-liner (which I pretty much cribbed from Time to begin with) as an attempt at deep legal analysis.