Patterico's Pontifications


Postcards from the Ledge: Wake Up, Beldar! We Have the Evidence That Miers Supported Affirmative Action

Filed under: Judiciary,Race — Patterico @ 12:39 pm

[“Postcards from the Ledge” is a semi-regular feature of this site, detailing revelations about Harriet Miers that have driven your gentle host out onto the window ledge.]

Paul at Power Line writes on the latest revelation that Harriet Miers supported affirmative action set-asides while on the Texas State Bar. Citing a Washington Post article, Paul acknowledges that Miers’s support for affirmative action is a concern. But he also spends a lot of energy downplaying this revelation, not always convincingly. For example:

Despite the breathless tone of the article, there’s not much new here. We’ve understood all along that Miers backs certain forms of race and gender-based preferences. I wrote about this several weeks ago, and I discussed it yesterday on the blogger conference call with Justice Enoch.

Actually, there is something new here. First of all, we now know that Miers supported set-asides. These are quite different from mentoring programs and outreach programs. Those don’t raise my hackles. Set-asides do.

Second, when Paul wrote about this issue several weeks ago, some Miers supporters disputed the conclusion that Miers supported affirmative action. You can trace Paul’s evidence back to a Patterico post. Miers supporters like Beldar disputed the evidence and conclusions of my post at the time. It’s no longer possible to credibly dispute my conclusion: Miers did support affirmative action.

Paul’s first link in the quoted passage is to this Power Line post, which in turn cited this Protein Wisdom post, which was in turn based entirely on a post of mine titled Miers Did Support Affirmative Action. So if you trace it back, Paul’s evidence derived exclusively from my post, which cited 1) a Dallas Morning News article on Miers’s support for weakened standards for the Dallas Fire Department; and 2) a quote from USA Today‘s Joan Biskupic alleging that Miers had argued for the Administration’s weak-kneed position on affirmative action in the Grutter case.

Apparently Paul took this evidence as conclusive proof that Miers was an affirmative action supporter. But not all of Miers’s supporters did. In particular, indefatigable Miers supporter Beldar argued in a comment that my evidence was paltry, and that the title of my post (“Miers Did Support Affirmative Action”) was a gross overstatement:

Thin reeds for such a powerful headline, my friend. I know someone who’d have raised a stink if the LAT had written a headline like this one on the basis of such thin proof — and I’d have gladly joined you in fileting them. 🙂

(I disagreed, expressing my rejection of this criticism in a comment of my own.)

Beldar mocked my citation of Miers’s support for affirmative action for the Dallas Fire Department. He complained that my post was largely based on unnamed sources. The essence of his argument was summarized in the first sentence of his comment: “Wake me when you get some competent, admissible, and credible evidence.”

Beldar? Beldar?? Wake up! I got something!!

When Harriet E. Miers, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, was moving toward the presidency of the State Bar of Texas in 1992, she enthusiastically supported an effort by the group to guarantee positions on its board of directors to female and minority lawyers, her two immediate predecessors said on Saturday.

That’s the first paragraph of a story in this morning’s New York Times. With this story, together with yesterday’s story in the Washington Post (discussed here yesterday), it has become impossible for rabid Miers supporters like Beldar to deny the obvious: Miers supported affirmative action in the early 1990s. Miers supporter are now reduced to arguing that 1) her mind has changed (unlikely), or 2) this doesn’t matter (tough sell).

So, yes — I agree with Paul that we already knew that Miers supported affirmative action. However, I disagree with Paul’s current assertion that “there’s not much new here.” The revelation that Miers supported set-asides, backed by people willing to attach their names to the allegation, is indeed a new and compelling fact. And a distressing one, that still has me sitting out here on the ledge.

P.S. I’m going to write Paul and Beldar, to let them know I’ve written this post, and to invite their reaction.

9 Responses to “Postcards from the Ledge: Wake Up, Beldar! We Have the Evidence That Miers Supported Affirmative Action”

  1. Give it up, Patterico.

    Beldar’s “Texas Homeyism”* will lead him to support Miers no matter what. Post hoc justifications about her non-legal social activities do not serve to cancel out her horrible legal reasoning and writing non-skills, but he’ll never admit that.

    *Kudos to the long-forgotten commentator who came up with the phrase originally.

    Ernest Brown (4cecc0)

  2. Give us this day our daily Miers

    Last evening I noted that Hugh Hewitt, in his rebuttal to George Will's critique of the Miers nomination, raised several serious questions aimed at those of us who've expressed particular concern over the nominee's purported political po…

    protein wisdom (c0db44)

  3. “Texas Homeyism”

    This is right on the money, although I’m unwilling to accuse Beldar of it. There’s no question that a certain strain of Miers supporters support her because she lacks the credentials that are traditionally expected of an SC nominee. Her non-Ivy education, dearth of legal scholarship, and relatively modest professional accomplishments are practically a point of pride among them, because they distinguish her from all them pointy-headed fellers from Yale and Harvard who think they’re better than everyone else. The fact that she’s from the South and not either of the coasts brings the picture into perfect focus. You get the sense sometimes that they imagine her in chambers sitting in a rocking chair, whittling, tossing off cracker-barrel wisdom about con law that’s a durn sight more common-sensical than anything that Scalia character ever came up with.

    By the way, I assume everyone realizes that expectations for Miers are now so low that if she manages to come off in the hearings as anything less than retarded, she’ll probably be confirmed. Perhaps we should start to focus on what we’ll need to see from her in order to justify a “yes” vote.

    Allah (cc4e8d)

  4. The way to increase expectation is to tell her that if she screws up the answer one question, she’s toast, as in Diner. (Allah would have done a much better job making this point than Joel Aschenbach.)

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (471b7c)

  5. Alah, I’m one of those anti-elitists (meaning “against elitists” not just “against elitism”) who thinks that the lack of an Ivy League degree is a point in Miers favor. But that’s not enough to make me willing to risk another Republican Supreme Court appointment disaster.

    Doc Rampage (b7bb1a)

  6. First, I don’t think Beldar supports Miers out of some kind of Texas lawyer loyalty. Sure, Harriet Miers is/was a Texas lawyer and so is Beldar, but that’s where the similarities end. Beldar is a trial lawyer, while Harriet Miers specialized in business and commercial law. That’s a big difference in Texas, and the two don’t often “appreciate” each others’ talents. In addition, Beldar went to UT Law and Harriet Miers went to SMU Law. While lawyers in Texas generally respect each other regardless of where they went to school, SMU Law and UT Law go together like oil and water.

    I believe Beldar supports Harriet Miers’ nomination because he trusts GWB and he is trying to support W’s nominee with every reasonable argument in her favor.

    Second, Beldar probably can’t respond right now. Surely he has been watching his Astros in the World Series and, given they are now down 0-2, perhaps he needs time to recover before he can post on the Miers’ nomination.

    DRJ (15ed57)

  7. Allah Johnson is right! Not only will lowered expectations make it difficult for Republican Senators (except maybe Brownback) to cross the President on this one, but Democrats will give Harriet whatever votes she needs to squeak by. They know it’s in their interests.

    Tom Dunson (149cde)

  8. Allah,

    Beldar’s arguments are all good if you want Miers to be a legal administrator (ironically enough, that would make her a better appointment than Roberts as CJ on his reasoning!), or you want a well-connnected corporate advocate in the Lone Star State. They do nothing at all to address the sound prima facie requirements for the AJSC post that Patterico, the Angry Clam and the Baseball Crank have laid down, because he can’t get around her demonstrated lack of reasoning and writing ability.

    Abraham Lincoln was a 2nd grade dropout, but he taught himself how to write and express himself with forensic exactness and lucid clarity. Anyone who thinks that Miers is some cornpone “commonsensical” person is just not paying attention.

    Ernest Brown (645009)

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