Patterico's Pontifications

10/9/2005

Specter Should Subpoena Dobson and Rove

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Arlen Specter wants to ask James Dobson and Karl Rove what mysterious thing it is that Dobson claims to know about Harriet Miers:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he wants to know whether presidential adviser Karl Rove privately assured a conservative activist of how Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers would rule on the court.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he will would look into a statement by James Dobson, president of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based advocacy group Focus on the Family, that Dobson has had “conversations” with Rove about the woman nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and knows things about Miers “that I probably shouldn’t know.”

“The Senate Judiciary Committee is entitled to know whatever the White House knew,” Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn’t know or something that I ought to know, I’m going to find out.”

I sure as hell want to know what Dobson claims to know that he says he probably shouldn’t know. I sincerely doubt that Harriet Miers secretly assured Karl Rove that she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but that is one logical reading of Dobson’s mysterious suggestions.

Specter should look into this, and should subpoena Dobson and Rove if necessary. Either we’ll learn something really interesting, or (as I think is likely) we’ll learn it was really nothing — and that’d be interesting too, wouldn’t it?

UPDATE: I’m not understanding the negative reaction in the comments. I’m not suggesting that executive deliberations over Miers be revealed. But Dobson is not in the Bush Administration, and (as far as I know) he didn’t participate in the selection process. As I understand it, he was simply called once the selection was made, and told it was A-OK. Now, Dobson has made some dark suggestions that he knows things he shouldn’t know, based on those contacts occurring after the selection was made. Under these circumstances, we have a right to know what those things are. Rove should be asked only what he told Dobson, not what his discussions were with Administration insiders.

UPDATE: More here.

Thank You, You Motherthanker

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:58 pm

Conservatives: with the Miers nomination, we’re being thanked.

Yes, Harriet Miers Is a Part of Bush’s Legal Team — And That’s Yet Another Concern

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:51 pm

I keep hearing that Harriet Miers was part of the team that helped nominate Bush’s judges. But she was also part of the team that didn’t lift a finger to get Bush’s judges confirmedtelling Senators that the filibuster issue was an internal Senate matter, and leaving fine candidates like Miguel Estrada twisting in the wind:

“The administration has acted as if the president’s job is nominations, not appointment,” said an aide to a top Republican senator. “They’ve made the base happy with lots of good nominations, but they have done zilch to get them confirmed.”

White House officials respond that they mounted a strenuous defense of the filibustered nominees and ultimately got many of them confirmed. And they noted that a great majority of Bush’s nominees have been approved.

Even outside legal advisers said they felt rebuffed by White House officials after they tried to engage the administration on the filibuster issue. They had emphasized privately to the White House that the filibuster was a monumental threat to the president’s authority to name judges of his choosing and urged Bush to become more directly involved.

But Gonzales, who then was the White House counsel, insisted the battle was a Senate issue.

“From the perspective of the White House, this is a matter– an internal Senate matter to be resolved within the Senate,” he told the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings as attorney general.

Did Harriet Miers disagree? I rather doubt it.

P.S. But isn’t the filibuster an internal Senate matter? Yes, obviously it is. But the judicial filibuster also impinges on the presidential prerogative to get a vote on his nominees, and not have that vote denied by an opposing party that failed to win the election. (Having a vote denied by his own party enforcing the president’s own promises is quite a different matter, in my view.) Bush did indeed have to be careful not to appear to be overstepping. Still, I think he could have been firmer on the issue back when it mattered — especially behind closed doors, with his allies, telling them that he had their back.

LBJ Had Certain… Needs

Filed under: Humor — Angry Clam @ 4:32 pm

[Posted by The Angry Clam]

Here’s an audio recording from the University of Virginia where LBJ tries to order some pants.

He has, um, certain sizing needs….

This might be the first recorded use of the word “bunghole” by a sitting President of the United States of America, however.

A Revealing Headline

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 1:51 pm

Miers nomination reveals inner Bush.

I’ve been thinking something very similar lately.

Write your own punchline . . .

Article Blames Miers Nomination on Filibuster Threats

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 1:35 pm

Via feddie at Confirm Them comes this Chicago Tribune story, which says:

The failure of the Republican leadership in the Senate and the White House to swiftly end the Democratic-led filibusters came back to haunt conservatives last week, because it was one of a confluence of factors that led to the surprisingly contentious nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Partly because of the Democrats’ success in filibustering appellate court nominees, Bush had a shorter list of candidates to examine for the Supreme Court.

. . . .

Bush had emphasized to his aides, however, that he wanted to nominate a woman or minority. Federal appellate Judge Priscilla Owen had been under serious consideration and, an administration official said, was willing to endure another fight, after surviving a Democrat-led filibuster of her nomination to the New Orleans-based federal appeals court. She did not withdraw her name from consideration, the official said.

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Senate Democrats had warned Bush that the nomination of the strongly conservative Owen would provoke an all-out fight and likely trigger a filibuster.

So with his approval rating dropping after the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush turned to Miers, his trusted adviser.

We don’t know if this account is true, any more than we know that Bush might have appointed Consuelo Callahan. But the story is consistent with an increasing body of evidence suggesting that Bush’s primary objectives were: 1) a diversity candidate, and 2) avoiding a contentious fight — not simply picking the best person for the job.

Trust Bush, indeed.

P.S. Steve Bainbridge, are you finally willing to admit you were wrong about judicial filibusters? If you expect Bush to admit he was wrong, you should set an example.

Don’t Pick on Hugh Hewitt

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Judiciary — Patterico @ 11:25 am

This is overdue, but I want to express my agreement with Captain Ed that folks should not pick on Hugh Hewitt. He’s a good guy, and we need to try to keep this discussion respectful.

Who Was Bush’s Second Choice?

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 9:23 am

Did Bush nominate Harriet Miers because he has secret knowledge of her conservative bona fides — knowledge that seems to contradict what little we know about her record? Or was he simply looking for a consensus candidate, and judicial conservatism be damned?

There is a hint in this Robert Novak column (via Jonathan Adler):

A footnote: President Bush had advised senators that his probable choice for the Supreme Court was federal Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan of California. Bush touted Callahan’s diversity as a Hispanic woman, but she is liberal enough to be recommended for the high court by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.

Spin that one, Miers supporters. The best you can do is to trash Bob Novak. Because if he’s right, this is devastating evidence of Bush’s lack of regard for the importance of this nomination.

If true, Novak’s story conclusively refutes the idea that Bush was simply going for the most reliable conservative candidate he could find. It means that Bush’s primary goals were: 1) getting a woman on the Court, and 2) choosing someone who would please Democrats. (Judging from Barbara Mikulski’s comments, he sure did that with Miers.)

P.S. Adler says: “Whatever Miers’ approach to constitutional interpretation, there is reason to believe Callahan would have been worse.” Perhaps — but that is not a reason to support Miers. If Bush is forced to withdraw Miers’s name by outraged conservatives — an extremely unlikely possibility — he would be forced to move right, not left.

Miers Did Support Affirmative Action

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 8:22 am

Here are a couple more depressing revelations on Miers that I hadn’t previously seen.

From an article in the Dallas Morning News, reprinted in the Monterey Herald:

Ms. Miers was one of 10 Dallas council members to unanimously approve a 1989 agenda item that revised minimum height, weight and vision requirements for Dallas firefighters to facilitate “promotion of certain ranks in the Fire Department,” particularly women.

The agenda item’s title: “Implementation of Fire Department Affirmative Action Plan.”

Because we don’t mind short, weak, nearsighted firefighters, as long as we get enough women in the process.

And from the October 7 edition of Washington Week (no Web link available), Joan Biskupic of USA Today corroborates John Yoo’s assertion that Miers was heavily involved in the Administration’s decision to argue for affirmative action in the Grutter case:

BISKUPIC: There’s not a paper trail at all on her, and actually the truth is–there are a couple decisions that she was–she played a larger role in. For example, the affirmative action case from Michigan two years ago, she gave a little bit more advice than usual. But one of the reasons that I think Alberto Gonzales had some things going against him is because he actually had his fingerprints on some of these memos. Harriet Miers didn’t.

I’m still waiting for something genuinely reassuring . . .

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has further thoughts, and they are well-considered and well-expressed, as his thoughts always are.

Rove Told Senators It Would Be Someone With Judicial Experience

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 3:39 am

Are you wondering why Senators seemed so flabbergasted when the Miers nomination was announced? I’ve got your answer, from the September 29 edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann — before the nomination was made public. Here’s Pete Williams:

The president has several choices. He could decide to appoint a woman. And if he does, there are several candidates that have been mentioned, many of them federal judges, one of them who is not. That’s Harriet Miers, who is the White House counsel now, a long-time Bush confidante.

. . . .

OLBERMANN: The president just got scalded, day after day, for at least two weeks, because his former head of FEMA had no prior emergency management experience. Would he really appoint somebody, and go to bat for somebody, and use what political capital he has left in a controversial situation, who has never been a judge to the Supreme Court? Or am I guilty, Pete, of thinking too linear again?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, there’s no question that she — if you’re talking about Harriet Miers (INAUDIBLE)…

OLBERMANN: I am, yes.

WILLIAMS: … there’s no question that — And remember, there’d been some suggestion early on that perhaps the president would choose a U.S. senator who didn`t have any judicial experience. But that would be, I think you would agree, a different matter in the Senate.

But Harriet Miers obviously has a lot of legal experience. She’s long been a lawyer, first, a woman president of the state bar association in Texas. So she’s — she knows legal issues, she’s an experienced litigator. This is not be the chief justice position, where court administration experience or experience as a judge would be handier.

I think you’re right. I think the bar would be higher for someone who doesn’t have judicial experience.

And the other thing is, Karl Rove, we’re told, was on Capitol Hill earlier this week telling members of the Senate that the next nominee would be someone who had judicial experience at the court of appeals level. If the president is still thinking in those terms, that would seem to let Harriet Miers out.

Whoops! Looks like Karl Rove might have been out of the loop himself until the last second . . .

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