Robert Bork, who had previously called the Miers nomination a “disaster,” sets forth his reasoning in a scathing critique of Miers in the WSJ. Unsurprisingly, I agree with many of the sentiments he expresses in it. It opens:
With a single stroke–the nomination of Harriet Miers–the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That’s not a bad day’s work–for liberals.
He notes her poor writing skills:
There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association’s journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no “ability to write clearly and argue incisively.”
He echoes The Angry Clam’s recent complaint that the nomination sends the message to conservatives to hide your views:
By passing over the many clearly qualified persons, male and female, to pick a stealth candidate, George W. Bush has sent a message to aspiring young originalists that it is better not to say anything remotely controversial, a sort of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” admonition to would-be judges. It is a blow in particular to the Federalist Society, [which] performs the invaluable function of making law students, in the heavily left-leaning schools, aware that there are respectable perspectives on law other than liberal activism. Yet the society has been defamed in McCarthyite fashion by liberals; and it appears to have been important to the White House that neither the new chief justice nor Ms. Miers had much to do with the Federalists.
And he concludes by noting that the nomination has split conservatives:
Finally, this nomination has split the fragile conservative coalition on social issues into those appalled by the administration’s cynicism and those still anxious, for a variety of reasons, to support or at least placate the president. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aside, George W. Bush has not governed as a conservative (amnesty for illegal immigrants, reckless spending that will ultimately undo his tax cuts, signing a campaign finance bill even while maintaining its unconstitutionality). This George Bush, like his father, is showing himself to be indifferent, if not actively hostile, to conservative values.
Good points all.
The knee-jerk response to any proclamation from Bork is to note how many votes he has cast on the Supreme Court (answer to that trivia question: none) — as if it was Bork’s fault that his opponents lied shamefully about his record and got away with it. But his defeat — at the hands of a Democrat-controlled Senate, I’ll remind you — did send the message that conservative candidates should eschew two things: 1) a wacky beard, and 2) excessive honesty about one’s views. A quality, tight-lipped, clean-shaven nominee like Mike Luttig was in my view unlikely to be Borked in a Senate with 55 Republican votes.
Bork’s voice has authority. Conservatives supporting Miers mock him at their peril.