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Cornerites seek truce. Evian Flu Outbreak Contained.

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Podhoretz opens negotiations over shape of the table.

UPDATE: A very interesting e-mail:

Mr. Hewitt:

I am a practicing commercial litigator who thus far supports the nominee (although I am reserving final judgment until the hearings). I am also flummoxed by the rush among the Washington DC Conservative Establishment both to condemn this nomination and to dictate to the President of the United States that he must chose a nominee from a list of “pre-approved” names of probably 20 or so acceptable jurists.

Just for fun, I compared Miers’ qualifications with that of another potential nominee, Judge Edith Brown Clement on the 5th Circuit, and found them to be very similar — almost eerily similar. Actually, I would say “Creepy Similar.” Like, “These Two Could Be Twins” similar.

By way of background, Judge Clement was one of the judges that Peggy Noonan described in her WS Journal article as being an acceptable alternative to Miers. Others have dropped her name as well (according to Mona Charen’s most recent article, David Frum also cited her as a good choice, but I could not confirm this independently). Also, Clement was leaked as the early pick for the seat that ultimately went to Roberts. Based on the fact that Miers lead the search, I am not surprised that, considering their similarities in age and experience, Clement rose to the top of the list. (There’s a scoop there for someone to follow and report on!)

Consider the following:

1. Both Miers and Clement went to regional Southern schools — well respected locally, but without real national profile. (Clement: B.A. Univ of Alabama ’69 and J.D. Tulane Law ’73; Miers B.S. SMU ’67 and J.D. SMU Law ’70). I know Miers was Law Review, honors, etc, and I assume Clement was as well.

2. Both clerked for federal district court judges in the South in the early ’70s (trial court judges, not the typical federal appellate clerkships for SCOTUS nominees). Clement clerked for Judge Christenberry, E.D. La. from 1973-75; Miers clerked for Judge Estes, N.D. Tex. from 1970-72.

3. Both enjoyed long, successful careers in large Southern law firms. From 1975 to 1991, Clement practiced principally maritime litigation at Jones Walker — a well respected firm of about 200 lawyers with offices throughout Louisiana (Baton Rouge, New Orleans) and in Texas (mainly Houston). From 1972 through 1996, Miers practiced commercial and business litigation with Locke Purnell — again, a well respected firm of about 200 lawyers with offices throughout north Texas (Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas).

4. In the early to mid 1990s, both obtained some of the highest levels of success in their profession. In 1991, Bush I appointed Clement to a district court judge position in the E. D. La. (the same place she clerked almost 20 years prior). Miers did not receive a trial court appointment, but in 1992 was elected President of the State Bar of Texas (she was President of the Dallas State Bar in ’84). In 1996, Miers’ partners voted her president of Locke Purnell. Locke Purnell then merged with another large Texas firm (based in Houston), became Locke Liddell, and Miers was elected co-managing partner of this new firm by her new and old partners — the firm was by then one of the largest in Texas. This type of prominent position gave Miers access to very important people, and Miers impressed the newly elected Governor and received some legal appointments that sound a little silly now (counsel to gubernatorial transition team, Lottery Commission chair, etc).

5. In 2001, Bush appointed Clement to a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and she was confirmed immediately 99-0 (not considered too controversial). Miers, however, went with Bush to DC and moved from WH staff secretary to WH deputy chief of staff to WH counsel — all assistant to pres/ policy positions. (Note: I am tired of people describing staff secretary as a “paper shuffling” position — the position is currently held by Brett Kavanaugh, a lawyer who is a former Supreme Court clerk, a Ken Starr protégé, and a Presidential nominee for a seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The fact that Miers has been dismissed as a “secretary” is the one place where I would say sexism has entered this debate. Nobody has ever dismissed Kavanaugh as a secretary.)

Considering their similarities in age and background, it does not surprise me one bit that Clement rose to the top of Miers’ list. In fact, it actually surprises me a lot that Clement did not get the first SCOTUS nod (according to a Wash Post story, Clement came pretty close, but she and Bush did not hit it off in the interview whereas Bush and Roberts did). But I think this demonstrates pretty clearly that Miers possesses almost identical qualifications as Clement. But Clement is being suggested as an alternative by the same people who are suggesting that Miers is unqualified?

In fact, I would go one better — I have, in my law practice, encountered some federal trial judges in some rural areas who are pretty dense (I’m not speaking of Clement — I don’t know her at all). But I have never, ever met a managing partner of a firm the size of Locke Liddell that I did not consider to be real bright. DC folk may not see this, but I am convinced that Bush sees Miers as an extremely successful Texas lawyer who is comparable or even interchangeable experientially with someone like Clement. (Or, for that matter, other “big firm Texas types” like Priscilla Owens who received her J.D. from Baylor in ’77 before spending 17 years at Andrews & Kurth or Gonzalez who spent 12 years at Vinson & Elkins (he did go to Harvard)).

I bet Bush is hearing about this bugaboo from others, turning to Laura and saying — what’s the fuss?

I think two things are going on here. First, some independent minded/ con law bloggers (like Glen Reynolds) really want a SCOTUS nominee who is a “public intellectual” — Professor/Judge McConnell is probably the most mentioned and I really cannot think of another on the radar (Posner?). There aren’t many. Second, most prominent conservative opinion writers — people who spent their whole lives writing opinions in and out of government — want a judge who has spent his or her whole life writing opinions in and out of government. Luttig, Wilkinson, Rogers Brown all fit this mold. There’s a fair amount of “self identification as qualification” going on here.

Me, I am a practitioner and I want someone who has practiced for a long time, and who has achieved the highest level of success in practice. I would be fine with Clement or Owens, but the President decided Miers was his pick and I really cannot quibble. He makes judgment calls on jurisprudence and temperament (subject to consent of the Senate), not me — if there’s any place he’s earned my trust, it’s on this.

If Miers was denied confirmation in place of someone in the “public intellectual/ judge for life” mold it is quite possible that for the first time in this nation’s history the Supreme Court of the United States would consist of no one who has either (a) tried a case or (b) spent a significant portion of his or her life not in academia, in government or on the bench (with the exception of the 10 year appellate practice that C.J. Roberts engaged in). I do not think that would be a good thing.

In any event, I enjoy your analysis and, again, feel free to use as much of this as you deem appropriate. I do think the comparison between the careers of Miers and Clement is an original take and is worth posting.

Regards,

–Bob

And a funny one:

Hugh,

I think we should use the term ‘Evian Flu’

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Everyone Go and Throw Things at Peter Robinson Because He’s a Cornerite!

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Not really. He’s actually my very good friend who is speaking on the future of PBS tonight, along with Rob Long and Harry Shearer. If you are anywhere near Los Angeles tonight and not attending GodBlogCon I, go listen in on this most interesting trio.

Speaking of Cornerites, Jonah’s produced a very useful and hopefully influential column this morning.

UPDATE II: Go ahead and throw things at Peter.

Again, not really. But look at my post yesterday on my conversation with Karl Rove. It specifically addresses the “judicial philosophy question,” and the charge, made by many, that the president and by extension his staff could not have known Miers’ judicial philosophy when she was selected. A specific response to a specific charge.

To which Peter responds
that “Have I got this right? As the result of sitting on a committee with him–a committee that involved poring over great big binders–Harriet Miers is now just as thoroughly qualified to sit on the highest court in the land as is…Karl Rove.”

To which I respond, with a tilt of my head and a small smile, “Well, there you go again…”

The post did not purport to present an argument for Miers’ qualifications, though others have and more will do so. I suspect Peter will repent upon rereading.

As for the Third Amendment, or the Seventh, or the Ninth, or the dormant commerce clause or the damned 11th Amendment which is almost impossible to teach –the questions being compiled by the Cornerites have almost nothing to do with judging! Do they think John Roberts was prepared to discuss the quartering of troops in private homes?

What the Cornerites continue to look for as an indication of SCOTUS credentials is a facility with words that matches their facility with words. I will be back later to explain why witty, deft posting, or long and persuasive op-eds are not signs of SCOTUS greatness.

Bird Flu

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We are essentially in a life-or-death race with the bird flu. Can we figure out how to preempt it before it figures out how to evolve into a transmittable form with 1918 lethality that will decimate humanity? To run that race we need the genetic sequence universally known — not just to inform and guide but to galvanize new research.

Charles Krauthammer, in today’s Post column.

I interviewed Dr. Mark Horton, chief health officer for the County of Orange, California, earlier this week to review the basics of public health concerning the potenbtial arrival of the flu. (With its enormous population of immigrants from Southeast Asia and large volume of cross-Pacific traffic, Orange County is considered one of the likely points of entry for the flu after it shifts into the easily communicated form people fear.) Education of the medical community on symptoms and safe treatment, the hospitals on isolation protocals, and immigrant communities most likely to be first affected are the essential early steps, and they ought to be underway in any county of any significant size.

The federal government has done its job of sounding the alarm, and the media has done its job of commmunicating that alarm. The federal government is funding the vaccine research that is necessary, but state and local governments have to get their public health staffs up to speed, and investigate some crucial stockpiling of potentially useful drugs like Tamiflu.

It doesn’t have the colorful graphics of Katrina, but local governemnts everywhere have all the warning they should need to get the preparations underway in a professional, calm fashion.

Local bloggers might want to ask their local health departments for a look at thier avian flu plans.

Starting Early on a Long Friday

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I will broadcast today from GodBlogCon at Biola University, and then appear on a panel with Tod Bolsinger, Mark D. Roberts, and John Mark Reynolds. It will be very interesting to have more than a hundred Christian bloggers, including Joe Carter, Rhett Smith and many other friends all discussing the use and abuse of the new form.

Many interesting things on the Miers nomination.

First, here’s David Frum’s July 4 diary. Perhaps he ought to have warned his readers that he would fight the nomination to the end.


Dean Cass is amazed at the trajectory of the debate.

Matthew Scully weighs in over at The New York Times.

The Corner will want to get posting privileges extended to Barbara Boxer, who said to the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Here’s what I know about Harriet Miers,” Boxer said. “I know that she’s a crony of the president. I know she thinks he’s the most brilliant man she’s ever met. I know that she was head of the search committee and wound up being the nominee, and I know that she is personally anti-choice. Those are things I know.”

(HT: Washington Post SCOTUS Blog)

Here’s an interview talker/blogger Scott Hennen did with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week which I had missed.

My appeal to anti-anti-Miers readers for patience with the punditry has not gone over well in some circles. Here’s one such e-mail. It began:

President George Washington once said that the “touch of a feather,” unless the central government exercised great care, could send the western territories of the United Sates right out of the new American Union. I feel the same way about the Republican Party today. A touch of a feather could send me out the Republican Party and into the hands of the Democrats.

All of the following remarks have been building up for a long time, and the Harriet Miers nomination, or more accurately the reaction of Belt Way Republican Party snobs to her nomination, has caused my feelings to boil over. I have voted Republican election after election, but I’m going to vote for Democrats next year and forever thereafter unless I see some changes in the Republican Party pretty damn soon. In short, the Republican Party has been a massive disappointment to me and, I suspect, to many, many others voters as well.

Then came a familiar litany of GOP failings. It ended:

However, the Miers nomination is the one thing I care most about now. NB. I say again, NB. If the Republicans refuse to support this nomination, if they force this woman to withdraw or force the President to withdraw her name, if they do not put this woman on the Supreme Court, then I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life and will vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008. I will vote against every Republican on every ballot in every election for the rest of my days. The response of Belt Way Republicans to the Harriet Miers nomination has been disgusting. This is the feather that will make me a Democrat. Harriet Miers is exactly the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court. She is far more likely to vote the way I want a Justice to vote than will John Roberts. No more “bright lights” from Harvard. No more from Yale. I have had enough incest like the Kelo decision. This is no debate among friends, Hugh, not with me. If these Ivy League Republicans, these Belt Way snobs and their “better sort” sense of themselves, defeat this nomination, then I will despise the Republican Party as much as I despise the Democrats. But I will vote for the Democrats anyway to punish, yes, punish the Republicans for their shameful ways.

From this point onward, I will never look at NRO again. Nor will I read The Weekly Standard. Frum, Will, Krauthammer and Kristol especially Kristol, are no longer worth my time. I say again, this is no debate among friends. And I have to ask: just how do these critics expect the President to name a person of their choosing when we know the Democrats will filibuster such a choice and the Republican Senator will not have the guts to carry out the nuclear option?

The point of this e-mail is that self-proclaimed protectors of the conservative base need to understand that defeating the Miers nomination is a political disaster of the first order. Which is why Barbara Boxer has begun to hope for death by committee.

Alarmed by this, who should be?

For starters, every GOP candidate with a competitive race in 2006. Beyond that, every GOP would be presidential candidate, but especially John McCain, whose Gang of 14 is rightfully identified as the reason we are here today.

Where is Senator McCain, anyway, on Harriet Miers? He’s not shy about media coverage, so I hope this weekend’s Sunday shows coax him out for an extended conversation on the process amd the nominee.

Hughniverse

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