Wednesday :: Oct 12, 2005

Guess Who Is Doing Opposition Research On Harriet Miers?


by Steve

After telling us last week that there is little chance that Harriet Miers won’t be confirmed to the Supreme Court, ABC News’ The Note today has a different tone. Several stories are linked by the Kool Kids at The Note, including a couple that strongly suggest the GOP support for Miers is crumbling.

First, a David Kirkpatrick piece in the New York Times:

As the White House seeks to rally senators behind the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers, lawyers for the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee are expressing dissatisfaction with the choice and pushing back against her, aides to 6 of the 10 Republican committee members said yesterday.
"Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact," a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.
Another Republican aide close to the committee said, "I don't know a staffer who approves of this nomination, anywhere. Most of it is outright hostility throughout the Judiciary Committee staff."
Republican staff members on the Judiciary Committee usually research and prepare arguments to defend the president's nominees. But Republican staff members on the panel said committee lawyers were doing research to rebut the "talking points" the White House has provided for senators to support Ms. Miers's nomination.
For example, committee lawyers said, the White House has told senators and conservative activists that Ms. Miers, as White House counsel, deserves credit for helping Mr. Bush select many strongly conservative federal judges. But lawyers for the committee say Ms. Miers, who became White House counsel last year, had no role in the most significant nominations.

Folks, that means that GOP staffers in the Senate are doing opposition research on the president’s own nominee.

Then, Mike Allen of Time magazine has this:

Republicans say there is no chance Bush will yank the Miers nomination of his own accord. But some influential Republicans said there is a small chance she will survey the flak ahead and decide to withdraw on her own.

And lastly, Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe reports this morning that advocacy groups are pressuring senators to derail Miers at her confirmation hearings by asking her tough questions that will show how unqualified she is. Who are these advocacy groups? Not liberal groups, but rather conservative groups.

Groups are circulating lists of questions they want members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Miers at her confirmation hearings. The activists' thinly veiled hope is that Miers will reveal ignorance of the law and give senators a reason to oppose her.
"We are trying to establish that there are thousands of questions that law students routinely deal with . . . and if she can't get to that level, it doesn't matter if you're for the left or the right, at that point it's a fait accompli that she is not fit for the office," said Eugene DelGaudio, president of Public Advocate, a conservative profamily group.
The groups oppose Miers because her scant record offers them insufficient proof that she would be a staunch conservative. But, mindful that judicial nominees resist talking about ideology, they believe that a better strategy is to make her appear unqualified.
Some of the questions from social conservative groups are similar to law school exams, aimed at testing Miers's knowledge of legal doctrines. Others demand specific information about her credentials, framed in a skeptical voice.
Concerned Women for America, one of the nation's largest antiabortion groups, wants senators to ask: "All attorneys are required to attend and complete mandatory continuing legal education courses. How many of Miss Miers's courses have been on the subject of constitutional law? . . . What were the subjects, what were the courses and dates of participation?"
Bruce Fein, an attorney and former Reagan administration aide who opposes Miers's nomination, said he thinks Miers is vulnerable to close questioning on Supreme Court cases. He predicted that it would be easy for senators to "make a fool of Miers" by marching through constitutional cases and asking her to explain.
"If there is an intent to show that she just knows none of these things, I think they'll have to recess and see if there is a gracious way for her to withdraw," said Fein, who helped prepare Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for her confirmation hearing in 1981. "I just can't imagine a nomination where a candidate is unable to answer 40 questions that someone with a reasonable immersion in constitutional history would have on the tip of their tongue. The Supreme Court isn't for on-the-job training."

Again, this is Bush’s conservative base that is plotting to undermine her nomination, not the Democratic opposition. So my question for the day is this: If you are Harry Reid’s advisor, what strategy do you suggest Senate Democrats follow in the weeks leading up to the hearings?

Steve :: 9:18 AM :: Comments (15) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!