Bench Memos

Re: The Questionnaire

A D.C. attorney finds Miers’ questionnaire quite dispiriting:

The questionnaire suggests a broader problem and a breakdown in the controls that make the White House an amazing place to work and a typically zero-defect environment. There are at least four issues w/the response. First, it was late. Miers promised it to Specter in three days. They missed the deadline and had to get more time. Then it contains a glaring misstatement of facts that is easily checkable — the incorrect dates for when her bar membership was suspended and the mischaracterization of how promptly the non-payment was remedied (WPost story). Next it contains another possible misstatement — the characterization of Miers as a Board member of Girls, Inc., in Dallas when the National Girls, Inc., folks have no recollection of her service (LATimes story). In addition, the questionnaire contains multiple gaps — “dates not available” — for Board service, including Boards where a contact person is identified. Every corporation I know of keeps meticulous records about Board members and meetings. And every vetter asks for this kind of information to facilitate background checks. All of this makes me ask the next question — what else did they miss?

More questions should follow. For instance: What explains the breakdown within the White House on this nomination? One real possibility is that attorneys in the White House Counsel’s office and the Office of Legal Policy at Justice are too dispirited to execute as they should. And what does it say if not even the administration’s own attorneys are excited about this pick.

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

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