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Opening Arguments

Miered in cronyism

Virginia Postrel, someone whose opinions are always worth considering, pinpoints exactly what's wrong with the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court:

At 60 years old, she appears never to have had a substantive conversation about law or policy with any friend. She comes from a closed and cronyish legal and business culture and appears to have gotten ahead through a combination of networking, nose-to-the-grindstone diligence, and willingness to do her law firm's management, rather than legal, work.

UPDATE: Miers has withdrawn her nomination. President Bush's reason for "reluctantly accepting her resignation" is that some in the Senate were calling for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege. That sounds a lot like the face-saving way out of a doomed nomination suggested recently by columnist Charles Krauthammer.

UPDATE 2: The Miers candidacy was doomed not by Bush's opponents but by deep discontent among conservatives. This group, Better Justice, was organized as a grassroots movment by some of the most respected conservatives today. Here's what some of those conservatives have said about Miers. An editorial in The Wall Street Journal gets to the heart of it:

"...on the major legal debates of her time, Ms. Miers has remained largely silent," the WSJ warned that "the lesson of other Republican nominees without such fixed views... is that they always drift to the left once they get on the Court."

"Mr. Bush should welcome an ideological Court fight, both because it would educate the public about the Constitutional issues at stake, and because he ultimately would have prevailed in putting another conservative jurist on the bench. In choosing Ms. Miers, Mr. Bush missed an opportunity for that kind of debate."

"...a Supreme Court fight over legal philosophy that ended in a conservative victory would have demonstrated to the left that Borking no longer works."

For many of us on the right, whether libertarian or conservative, this isn't about getting someone who will "make the correct decisions." It's about getting someone on the court who will approach the Constitution with the respect it deserves.

UPDATE 3: What's next?

If the President goes with his instincts, he will want a conservative nominee, but someone reasonably close to him. That would suggest someone like a conservative Texan, Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen. But Owen may not be acceptable to some Republican moderates in the Senate, and the President would need their support in the face of a likely Democratic filibuster.

Here are some of the likely candidates from which Bush might choose a Miers replacement. Take "likely" with a grain of salt, though. Nobody saw the Miers nomination coming, after all. Lots more links to reactions here.