Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why SMU Matters (a little), Part 2

Patterico has more good stuff, including Dan Coats defending Miers:
“If great intellectual powerhouse is a qualification to be a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole,” Mr. Coats said in a CNN interview.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do we really want "A Supreme Court that looks like America?"

Anonymous said...

I've long said that Clinton will be remembered not for moving the Democrats to the center (see Moore, Michael) but for moving the Republicans to the left. Government spending, affirmative action, etc... Clinton forced the Republicans to adopt their language in order to win on the national level. I hate Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Wait ... a Republican president conspires with a Republican Congress, who together have essentially run Democrats out of all the important offices of power in the country, to drive up federal spending, massively increase the federal workforce, increase federal intervention in the lives of the citizenry, flood Washington in personal sleaze and official incompetence, and Bill Clinton is to blame?

Aren't Republicans supposed to be the party of personal responsibility? As in, if Bush tells you he's going to do X, and you vote for him, and once he's in office he does X, then it isn't some third guy's fault that X happened?

And anyway, if Republicans were simply doing all this stuff that Clinton had "forced" them to do to win elections (despite the fact that Clinton never won a majority for president and Americans threw his party out of power in Congress after only two years of Democratic rule), how come Bush personally and his party generally are now so unpopular? Pretty well demolishes the thesis, dunnit?

Bizarro Jack said...

This reminds me of Harrison Bergeron. I don't hate the idea that intellectuals are often overrated with regards to some specific purpose, but when we're talking about the supreme court, making that argument sounds like a steep uphill climb.

Anonymous said...

Here's the real question: The members of the Supreme Court are judges. When your case comes to trial, do you want the smartest and most qualified judge to preside, or not? If your freedom or your financial future were on the line in a criminal or civil trial, would you want Harriet Miers to be your judge?

I'm a Wellstone Democrat, but if it was my freedom or my fortune on the line, I would be confident having John Roberts as the judge in my case. Can anyone honestly say the same about Harriet Miers?

Objecting to Miers’s lack of qualifications is no more “elitist” than preferring that the doctor scheduled to perform your heart surgery has some record of achievement in the field of cardiology.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:14, your statement is a bit off. You must understand there is a difference between a trial court judge and an appellate court judge? Big difference between the two. Some people are very good at being trial judges and are very lousy at being appellate judge (and vice-versa). My limited understanding is that Miers is a pretty good trial litigator; if so, I may want her in my civil or criminal trial. Appellate practice is a lot different and therefore she may not be as effective a judge.

Anonymous said...

Of course there's a difference between different kinds of judges. I did not mean to imply that every Supreme Court justice ought to be a bang-up trial judge, nor that all good trial judges deserve elevation to the appellate bench. But even appellate judges decide actual cases affecting the lives and fortunes of actual citizens, and no one has any business supporting Harriet Miers’s nomination unless he would trust Miers to sit in judgment of the final appeal of a case in which his liberty or his property were at stake. That's the fundamental test.

Anonymous said...


But even appellate judges decide actual cases affecting the lives and fortunes of actual citizens, and no one has any business supporting Harriet Miers’s nomination unless he would trust Miers to sit in judgment of the final appeal of a case in which his liberty or his property were at stake.

Jeez, who doesn't realize that?

Kevin said...

nor that all good trial judges deserve elevation to the appellate bench...

Yup. Justice O'Connor is an example here...her temperament and intellect and instincts were all geared towards making her a brilliant trial judge. But being on SCOTUS and needing to articulate and apply a consistent, rigorous judicial philosophy?...well, not so much.

But even appellate judges decide actual cases affecting the lives and fortunes of actual citizens

Actually, the lives and fortunes of the "actual citizens" before the Supreme Court of the United States usually matter somewhere between little and not at all. SCOTUS, or a state Supreme Court (or even, to a lesser degree, a federal circuit court), deal with a condensed and refined set of facts that are handed to them in the record, and from which they often cherry-pick the most relevant and useful elements.

Who "Jane Roe" was, what her life circumstances were, what her fate would be...this was about the 487th-most-important set of concerns when Roe v. Wade was handed down. Big constitutional cases like this are about the purest form of legal-theoretical intellectual exercise that exists outside the academy.

Which is why the "real-world experience" tack is just another flavor of Hruskaism in my book.

Anonymous said...

Great, now we need to have creationists on the SCOTUS as well?