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A Crony for the Court
Published on Tuesday, October 4, 2005 by the Progressive
A Crony for the Court
by Matthew Rothschild

After coming under withering criticism for cronyism, Bush turns around and appoints a crony to the Supreme Court.

Other than being a successful corporate lawyer in Texas—oh, and don’t forget, she served one term on the Dallas City Council, Bush boasted—the only qualification that Harriet Miers has is that she’s ridden the W wave.

She’s been inside the sanctum sanctorum for quite a while now.

She was Bush’s personal lawyer in Texas.

She worked as counsel for his 1994 gubernatorial campaign.

When he won, he appointed her to head the Lottery Commission.

She also proved indispensable in a carrying out a delicate assignment in 1998, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. During Bush’s reelection campaign for governor, she was put in charge of squelching rumors about Bush’s dubious National Guard service. His campaign “actually paid Miers $19,000 to run an internal preemptive probe of the potential scandal.”

When Bush became President, he made her staff secretary in the White House, then deputy chief of staff, then White House counsel.

But that does not mean she’s got the chops for the highest court of the land. Even the National Review online acknowledged her lack of qualifications for the job. “Being a Bush loyalist and friend is not a qualification for the Supreme Court,” its editorial states. “She may have been the best pick from within Bush’s inner circle. It seems impossible to maintain that she was the best pick from any larger field.”

Less than a year ago, Miers, as deputy chief of staff, was handling the insipid “Ask the White House” interactive forum.

On October 29, 2004, just five days before the election, Miers shilled for Bush. Here’s part of that transcript: James, from Mountain View, CA, writes: “Are we better off now than we were four years ago?”

Harriet Miers: “Thanks, James, this is a very good question, and I am pleased to give you my views. . . . The President’s optimism and faith in the American people and our economy helped inspire a remarkable recovery. . . . The President responded swiftly to the attacks on September 11. . . . Additionally, with victories in Afghanistan and in the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and other efforts around the world, we are promoting freedom and democracy. . . . So James, as you can tell, I think we are much better off than we were four years ago. . . .”

Billy, from Bethel, CT, writes: “Hi, I would like to say that Bush has the right idea about the ‘No Child Left Behind’ program. Now celebrating its second year, for the first time children in the grades 3-8 will be tested with reading and math tests to figure out their abilities to work with such subjects. Great job and keep up the good work. Billy.”

Harriet Miers: “Hi Billy, and good next question! . . . Your comments about the No Child Left Behind Act mirror what we have seen around the nation—the President’s education reforms are working. . . .”

And on and on, including e-mails from people praising the President’s record providing veterans’ benefits, securing the nation, and boosting the economy (one said, “The current numbers look fantastic”).

She concluded the session: “I appreciate all of those who wrote in today and you for being with us also. Hearing from Americans across the country is inspiring and interesting. I hope everyone has a great weekend. . . . And don’t forget to reset your clocks Saturday night.”

That’s hardly the stuff of a Supreme Court justice.

But you can bet that she’ll be a down-the-line conservative on social issues.

One clue dates back to 1993 when Miers, as president of the Texas Bar Association, tried to get the American Bar Association “to reconsider its pro-abortion rights stance,” as Anne Gearan of AP reports.

Another clue: She served on the board of directors of Prison Exodus Ministries in Dallas, which describes itself as a place “where ex-offenders learn how faith in Christ is the first step from captivity to freedom.”

And you can bet that she’ll toe the corporate line. She has represented Microsoft, Walt Disney, and SunGuard. She has spoken at conferences of the American Tort Reform Association, the business group that has been one of the prime movers against anti-corporate lawsuits. And she was a trustee of the Southwestern Legal Foundation, which is now the Center for American and International Law. The center appears to be in the pocket of Big Oil. Advisory board members on its Institute for Energy Law include several ExxonMobil executives, as well as representatives of Amerada Hess, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Hunt, Marathon, Occidental, Shell, and Texaco. According to the group, the “Center for American and International Law has received $177,450 from ExxonMobil since 1998.”

And, like Roberts before her, she comes out of the Executive Branch, and justices with such a pedigree tend to lick the feet of the President from the bench.

That’s especially disturbing right now, as Bush acts as though there is no check on his war-making powers.

As White House counsel, Miers must have had a hand in delaying the legal process the Supreme Court has ordered for Guantánamo and in continuing to insist on the legality of rounding up U.S. citizens like Jose Padilla.

She’s a crony through and through, with no experience whatsoever on the bench and no legal scholarship.

If she is approved by the Senate, she’ll tilt the bench decisively toward the Executive Branch, whose aggrandizement has been a singular mission of Dick Cheney’s.

“In an Administration intent on accumulating executive power, Ms. Miers’s views on—and role in—these issues will be important for the Senate to examine,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

“It is important to know whether she would enter this key post with the judicial independence necessary when the Supreme Court considers issues of interest to this Administration.”

But Bush did not nominate her for such judicial independence. He nominated her to be his—and the Executive’s—dependent for life.

Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983.

© 2005 The Progressive


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