Chinless John Fund writes:
he conference call will no doubt prove controversial on Capitol Hill, always a tinderbox for rumors that any judicial nominee has taken a stand on Roe v. Wade. Ms. Miers meets today with Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chuck Schumer of New York, both stalwart Roe supporters, who surely will be interested to learn more about her views. After Mr. Dobson’s initial comments about “things . . . that I probably shouldn’t know,” Sen. Arlen Specter, the pro-Roe Judiciary Committee chairman, said, “If there are backroom assurances and if there are backroom deals and if there is something that bears on a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that’s a matter that ought to be known.” He and ranking Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont threatened to subpoena Mr. Dobson as a witness.
Some participants in the Oct. 3 conference call fear that they will be called to testify at Ms. Miers’s hearings. “If the call is as you describe it, an effort will be made to subpoena everyone on it,” a Judiciary Committee staffer told me. It is possible that a tape or notes of the call are already in the hands of committee staffers. “Some people were on speaker phones allowing other people to listen in, and others could have been on extensions,” one participant told me.
Should hearings begin on Nov. 7 as is now tentatively planned, they would likely turn into a spectacle. Mr. Specter has said he plans to press Ms. Miers “very hard” on whether Roe v. Wade is settled law. “She will have hearings like no nominee has ever had to sit through,” Chuck Todd, editor of the political tip sheet Hotline, told radio host John Batchelor. “One slipup on camera and she is toast.”
Should she survive the hearings, liberal groups may demand that Democrats filibuster her. Republican senators, already hesitant to back Ms. Miers after heavy blowback from their conservative base, would likely lack the will to trigger the so-called nuclear option. “The nomination is in real trouble,” one GOP senator told me. “Not one senator wants to go through the agony of those hearings, even those who want to vote for her.” Even if Ms. Miers avoids a filibuster, it’s possible Democrats would join with dissident Republicans to defeat her outright.
There are philosophical reasons for Republican senators to oppose Ms. Miers. In 1987, the liberal onslaught on Robert Bork dramatically changed the confirmation process. The verb to bork, meaning to savage a nominee and distort his record, entered the vocabulary, and many liberals now acknowledge that the anti-Bork campaign had bad consequences. It led to more stealth nominees, with presidents hoping their scant paper trail would shield them from attack.
President Bush has now gone further in internalizing the lessons of the Bork debacle. Harriet Miers is a “superstealth” nominee–a close friend of the president with no available paper trail who keeps her cards so close to her chest they might as well be plastered on it. If Ms. Miers is confirmed, it will reinforce the popular belief that the Supreme Court is more about political outcomes than the rule of law.
I’m not sure if Fund is against Miers because she isn’t conservative enough or if he is afraid that she will vote to overturn Roe which has the potential for putting him in a pickle the next time he knocks up his girlfriend’s daughter.
That’s got to be a tough one for John.