Miers’s Experience

I have a quite different take than JPod on Miers’s questionnaire. That she’s only argued a handful of cases before trial or appellate courts is not particularly relevant. How often an attorney has stood in front of a judge or jury says very little about his or her qualifications. What matters is the type of issues that attorney has worked on, as well as the quality and depth of the attorney’s work. From that standpoint, the questionnaire should be mildly reassuring. Miers has worked on a wide range of complex legal questions – and has more practical legal experience (particularly on business issues) than most justices currently on the Court.

In a later post, JPod writes, “If the Miers defenders want to make the case that her experience writing briefs and billing hours and negotiating settlements has prepared her for the Supreme Court, they should go right ahead.” What does he think Supreme Court justices do? They certainly don’t preside over trials or deal with juries and evidence. They listen to arguments, read briefs, write opinions, and negotiate with their colleagues. Setting aside the subject matter, this is much more like the work that Harriett Miers has actually done than what JPod seems to want – courtroom experience defined as standing in front of juries and making oral arguments. Indeed, this sort of criticism of Miers is easy for her supporters to dismiss, as it betrays a degree of unfamiliarity with the practice of law. Miers may be a bad nominee, but that does not make every argument against her a good one. As I’ve noted before, Miers is “qualified” to serve on the Court, in that her qualifications and experience compare favorably with many justices who have served on the court in the last 50 years. Of course, as I’ve also noted, that’s not the issue. There are lots of people who are qualified that still should not have been nominated, and I’ve seen little reason to believe that Miers is not in this group.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Most Popular


Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More