The Right Coast

October 09, 2005
The Future of Harriet Miers
By Mike Rappaport

There are two primary complaints against the Miers nomination. First, President Bush could have nominated a giant but instead nominated an unknown who is not terribly qualified for the Court. The second complaint, though, would affect me more if I were Senator pondering how to vote: Miers may turn out not to be the Justice President Bush envisions and instead move towards the center over time.

While President Bush promises it won't happen, it is easy to imagine. In the early years, my guess is that Harriet Miers, who is not terribly experienced in the constitutional area, will tend to follow John Roberts. He is probably less ideological than Scalia and Thomas and he is greatly admired for his skills.

But after a couple of years, what will she do? My fear is that she becomes more liberal -- that she grows in office. Harriet Miers has spent her professional life being ambitious, doing what was necessary to rise to the top, and not staking out political or legal positions that would cause her to be criticized. On the Supreme Court, this type of person will worry about her reputation, and the best way to secure a good reputation is to move to the center and seem moderate. She will not want to stay in the shadow of Roberts forever. Miers will also have seen the accolades accorded her predecessor, Sandra Day O'Connor, for being moderate. The only reason for Miers to remain a conservative is if she is true believer and is willing to sacrifice reputation for the sake of what she believes is right. That, however, is not how Harriet Miers has acted throughout her career. There is little reason to believe she will start acting that way on the Supreme Court.