In truth, Miers'
sex was one of her two attractions for the president -- the other
being her canine worship of him. But the complaints about her
weak credentials would be made even if she had testosterone coming
out of her ears.
Miers, after all,
is by any standard the least qualified Supreme Court nominee since
Harry Truman picked his poker buddies. Among conservative women,
who are not known for their prejudice against Republican females,
she has drawn reactions ranging from tepid support to withering
Finding a reason
to reject this nomination is about as hard as finding sand at
the beach. What's tough is coming up with any rationale that would
fool a fourth-grader. Yet a bizarre array of activists has joined
together in blaming Miers' cold reception on old-fashioned male
Early on, Ed Gillespie,
former head of the Republican National Committee, said the opposition
carried "a whiff of sexism." First Lady Laura Bush agreed
"that's possible," while grousing that "people
are not looking at her accomplishments."
Some liberals joined
in, such as Eleanor Smeal, head of the Feminist Majority Foundation,
who exclaimed, "Does she have the mental capacity? Give me
a break. Would they say that about a man?" Sen. Barbara Mikulski
professed to be "shocked at the sexism and double standard
coming out of the far right."
If this is the best
Miers' defenders can do, she must be worse than anyone thought.
Conservatives weren't crazy about Ruth Bader Ginsburg when Bill
Clinton nominated her to the court, but nobody ever said she lacked
the requisite brainpower. Only three Republican senators voted
against her, and none on the basis of her IQ.
Nor has anyone accused
Miers of being in the same mental class as, say, Dan Quayle. The
charge is not that she bombed the SAT -- it's that her professional
career has not prepared her for the duties of a justice. Nobody
says the people who get MacArthur Foundation "genius grants"
are dimwitted, but no one nominates them to the Supreme Court,
The truth is that
the aggrieved right-wingers would be giving each other champagne
showers if Bush had picked any number of skirt-clad judges --
including Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, Edith Jones and
Karen Williams. Their beef with Miers is that they don't know
if she's conservative but do know she's under-qualified.
You don't have to
be a woman to have your credentials questioned. The same thing
happened to Clarence Thomas in 1991. Among the critics was Harvard
Law professor Christopher Edley, who said, "No one can look
at Clarence Thomas's record and find the claim that he was the
best qualified person remotely credible."
only conservatives who feel their intelligence is being insulted
when the president and his press secretary insist that Miers is
the best possible person for the job. Even ardent admirers have
trouble formulating intelligible arguments for her confirmation.
Margaret Donahue Hall, a partner at Miers' old law firm, told
The New York Times, "In my heart of hearts, I know
she'd make a great Supreme Court justice, but it's hard to put
into words why."
The double standard
is not among Miers' opponents but among her supporters. No white
male with her resume would even be considered for the court. Even
G. Harrold Carswell, rejected in 1970 because of his ostentatious
mediocrity, had spent more than a decade on the federal bench.
Clarence Thomas was a federal appeals court judge. Miers has never
presided over so much as a traffic case.
There is no rule
that Supreme Court justices have to come from the ranks of sitting
judges. But if Bush thinks Miers has the right stuff to serve
in the federal judiciary, why didn't it ever occur to him to appoint
her to an appeals court first? That apprenticeship was not beneath
John Roberts, despite his glittering resume. Miers lacks not only
the judicial experience but also the glittering resume.
Of course, it's possible
that the real reason so many people oppose the nomination is because
they can't stomach the idea of a woman on the Supreme Court. And
it's possible that Tom DeLay got indicted because the prosecutor