An Appointee in the World of Instant Opinions

By October 4, 2005Judicial Nominations

Once word leaked this morning of the President’s intention to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, it seemed that opinion began instantly to form. Opinions are OK if they are informed, but it seems these days the premium is placed on speed and not accuracy. Well before her name had left the President’s lips, TV and other media pundits were expressing opinions — opinions on a nominee about whom they knew (and still know) almost nothing. Harriet Miers quickly became Harriet Miersapersonwithnojudicialexperience. It was incredible how quickly the appellation attached: “Harriet Miersapersonwithnojudicialexperience”. And this became really important for reasons not entirely clear to us. Almost a third of the Justices appointed in the last seven decades came with no judicial experience. These included such standouts as the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Justice Byron White.

Harriet Miers is the White House Counsel. We know that much. That is a world of fairly rarefied air not typically inhabited by hacks of either party. This is the high wire, you need to know your stuff. Her bio is filled with a lot of “firsts” and accomplishments that aren’t shared by most other lawyers. Named one of the nation’s top 50 women lawyers, after all, is an honor that all but 50 do not get.

For our part, we actually have a process in place. We have a Judicial Review Committee, made up of General Counsels and top executives from our member companies that evaluates nominees according to a set of stated and published criteria. The criteria can be applied to nominees who come from the bench and those who don’t. It will take a few weeks for this process to run its course, the same process that resulted in an endorsement of John Roberts.

In the meantime, we would urge everyone to just stand back, take a deep breath and — God forbid — wait for the facts to come in.