Morning Report 10/3/05
Bush Puts Old Pal on High Court

Harriet Miers: No judicial opinions, but she has written about Bush's dog

Harkavy/White House

Bush plays horseshoes with Barney. Inset: Miers and one of her opinions from the White House.

Reaching out to his office staff, George W. Bush has nominated one of them, old Texas pal Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court.

I told you yesterday that Halloween was coming early this year. Once again, Bush is rewarding personal loyalty at the expense of the country. She has no record as a judge, but she has spent quite a bit of time helping Bush prepare for his speeches and overseeing the paperwork as his official secretary. I'm not knocking secretaries or secretarial work — but Miers is simply one of Bush's aides. That's it.

This is an instance of court cronyism unmatched since LBJ put pal Abe Fortas on the court in the '60s and later tried unsuccessfully to make him Chief Justice of the United States.

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Fortas, at least, had had a long history of involvement in social issues and key court cases, like Gideon v. Wainwright

In an interesting twist of SCOTUS history, Fortas was eventually forced off the court after he was linked to a scandalous financier, but Nixon replaced him with Harry Blackmun, who had been a judge — and who later went on to author Roe v. Wade.

How could anybody have foreseen that turn of events? And how could I have known yesterday, when I wrote about that cute little feller Barney, that the POTUS's terrier would again come into play today as a legit part of a news story?

Turns out that although Miers has issued zero legal opinions, she has written about Barney. In August 2004, on the Bush regime's interactive Ask the White House, Miers took to the keyboard to answer questions. Here was one of the exchanges:

    Alex, from Fargo, North Dakota writes: Could you explain how Barney plays horseshoes?

    Harriet Miers: The President throws the horseshoes to Barney, and Barney runs after them. Metal horseshoes are too heavy for Barney to lift, so he doesn't carry them around. Instead he moves them around with his nose. He has figured out pretty quickly how to get under the horseshoe enough to flip it over. As you know, the President loves horsing around with Barney.

Bush described Miers this morning as someone who has "devoted her life to the rule of law." What would he know about that?

For that matter, what would she know? Early in his term, Miers was the White House Staff Secretary, in charge of the paperwork that comes through the Oval Office. Just before the unjustified invasion of Iraq, she was performing her duties faithfully by helping Bush prepare his State of the Union speech.

When Bush put another crony, Alberto Gonzales, over at Justice to replace John Ashcroft, Miers became the White House counsel. That still doesn't qualify her to be on the Supreme Court.

You'll hear arguments that, well, Bill Rehnquist was never a judge before Nixon put him on the Supreme Court. Yeah, well, that proves my point. Rehnquist was just a lawyer and sleazy GOP operative in Phoenix before he traded his black hat for a black robe.

And there are degrees of cronyism. Rehnquist was the kind of lawyer who stopped blacks and Latinos from voting, as I've noted. At least in the case of LBJ's court cronyism, the operative in question, Fortas, had actually worked to help marginalized people get legal representation when facing criminal charges.

Back to Miers: In Texas, she was a bigwig in the legal establishment, but not exactly a notable legal mind. Bush, however, did think enough of her that he made her chief of the Texas Lottery Commission.

Next thing you know, bingo!, she's on the Supreme Court.

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