Suddenly, Being "Qualified" for SCOTUS Matters

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Suddenly, Being "Qualified" for SCOTUS Matters

The conservative revolt over Harriet Miers' nomination to SCOTUS seems to be intensifying. And White House efforts to head off this criticism are falling flat. According to the Washington Post:
A day after Bush publicly beseeched skeptical supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, a succession of prominent conservative leaders told his representatives that they did not.

Over the course of several hours of sometimes testy exchanges, the dissenters complained that Miers was an unknown quantity with a thin résumé and that her selection -- Bush called her "the best person I could find" -- was a betrayal of years of struggle to move the court to the right.

At one point in the first of the two off-the-record sessions, according to several people in the room, White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism." Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back.

... "Is she the most qualified person? Clearly, the answer to that is 'no,' " (GOP Senator Trent) Lott said on MSNBC's "Hardball," contradicting Bush's assertion. "There are a lot more people -- men, women and minorities -- that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is."
Gillespie's attempt to hush conservative complaints with his "sexism ... elitism" allegation was stupid. It reveals how defensive the administration is and how it miscalculated the Right's reaction to Miers' nomination.

Having said that, to hear Lott and other conservatives raise the issue of whether Miers is truly "qualified" for SCOTUS does seem like a cover for their real complaint -- she simply doesn't meet their ultra-conservative litmus test.

After all, does anyone recall Trent Lott or other conservatives complaining about Clarence Thomas' qualifications for SCOTUS? No, because they felt certain he shared their far-right judicial philosophy.

In fact, Lott took to the Senate floor to declare Thomas "clearly qualified" for the high court. And he even managed to say so without giggling.

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