A Supreme Court nomination may not have been the ideal time for Laura Bush to start acting like "Buy One, Get One Free" Hillary Clinton. At least President Clinton allowed his wife to choose only the attorney general. (Remember the good old days when First Ladies got to pick only the poet laureate and the White House china pattern?)
Between cooking segments on the "Today" show this week, Laura rolled out the straw-man–sorry, "straw-person"–argument that the criticism of Miers was rooted in "sexism" (which is such a chick thing to say).
I’m a gyno-American, and I strenuously object.
The only sexism involved in the Miers nomination is the administration’s claim that once they decided they wanted a woman, Miers was the best they could do. Let me just say, if the top male lawyer in the country is John Roberts and the top female lawyer is Harriet Miers, we may as well stop allowing girls to go to law school.
Ah, but perhaps you were unaware of Miers’ many other accomplishments. Apparently she was THE FIRST WOMAN in Dallas to have a swimming pool in her back yard! And she was THE FIRST WOMAN with a safety deposit box at the Dallas National Bank! And she was THE FIRST WOMAN to wear pants at her law firm! It’s simply amazing! And did you know she did all this while being a woman.
I don’t know when Republicans became the party that condescends to women, but I am not at all happy about this development This isn’t the year 1880. And by the way, even in 1880, Miers would not have been the "most qualified" of all women lawyers in the U.S., of which there were 75.
By 1950, there were more than 6,000 women lawyers, three female partners at major law firms and three female federal judges. She may be a nut who belonged to a subversive organization, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School–and that was before Harriet Miers was applying to law school.
Women have been graduating at the top of their classes at the best law schools for 50 years. Today, women make up about 45% of the students at the nation’s top law schools (and more than 50% at all law schools).
Which brings us to the other enraging argument being made by the Bush Administration and its few remaining defenders–the claim of "elitism." I also don’t know when the Republican Party stopped being the party of merit and excellence and became the party of quotas and lying about test scores, but I don’t like that development either.
The average LSAT score at SMU Law School is 155. The average LSAT at Harvard is 170. That’s a difference of approximately 1 1/2 standard deviations, a differential IQ experts routinely refer to as "big-ass" or "humongous." Whatever else you think of them, the average Harvard Law School student is very smart. I gather I have just committed a hate crime by saying so.
Contrary to the Bush Administration’s disingenuous arguments, it’s not simply that Miers did not attend a top law school that makes her unqualified for the Supreme Court. (But that’s a good start!) It’s that she did not go on to rack up any major accomplishments since then, either.
Despite the astonishing fact that Miers was THE FIRST WOMAN to head the Texas Bar Association—a dumping ground for losers, by the way–Miers has not had the sort of legal career that shouts out "Supreme Court material"! That is, unless you think any female who manages to pass the bar exam has achieved a feat of unparalleled brilliance for her gender.
There are more important things in life than being Supreme Court material, but–oddly enough–not when we’re talking about an appointment to the Supreme Court. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) defended Miers on the grounds that "Miers’ professional qualifications are excellent, but she lacks experience in constitutional law"–and Specter ought to know. This is like recommending a plumber by saying, "He’s a very professional guy, but he lacks experience in plumbing."
The other straw-man argument constantly being hawked by the Bush Administration is that Miers’ critics object that she’s never been a judge. To quote another Bush – Read my lips: No one has said that. So please stop comparing Miers to Justice Byron White (first in his class at Yale Law School) or Justice William Rehnquist (first in his class at Stanford Law School).
It’s also not what the New York Times claims, which is that conservatives oppose Miers because they don’t know how she will vote. We didn’t know how Roberts would vote! As I recall, I was about the only conservative complaining about that.
The problem with Miers is something entirely different–and entirely within the meaning of "advice and consent": Miers is no more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court than I am to be a sumo wrestler. The hearings aren’t going to change that; they will just make it more obvious.
I genuinely feel sorry for Miers. I’m sure she’s a lovely woman, brighter than average, and well-qualified for many important jobs. Just not the job Bush has nominated her for. The terrible thing Bush has done to Miers is to force people who care about the court to say that.