Was Harriet Miers nominated for the Supreme Court because of her evangelical Christian faith?
That’s the message a lot of people — conservatives and liberals alike — are hearing from the Bush Administration and its allies, as the campaign to sell Miers begins.
Senior Republican leaders have called Senators, using Miers’ faith as a starting point to reassure them as to her likely views as a member of the Court. Friends of the administration have also been called on by the White House to speak to the media in an effort to reassure the religious right that Miers will faithfully execute their agenda. The New York Times reported that the White House put Judge Nathan L. Hecht, Miers’s close friend and a fellow member of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, “on at least one conference call with influential social conservative organizers” to testify to her faith.
The non-profit Campaign to Defend the Constitution called on the White House to stop injecting the personal religious views of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers into the battle over her nomination.
“Efforts by the President’s aides to re-assure his conservative base about Ms. Miers by pointing to her faith are deeply disconcerting,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, professor of law at Duke University. “The standard for a nominee’s fitness for the Supreme Court must be their allegiance to the Constitution not to their own personal faith. With deep respect for her right to her personal religious beliefs, we expect Harriet Miers to make clear that, as a Justice of the highest court in the land, her loyalty will be to the Constitution and the established laws of the land.”
The irony is that evangelicals do not all hold the same political outlook. “Does she connect her beliefs up to politics in the way that they would like? I think the answer is they just don’t know,” John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron, told The Guardian.
Still, there was no shortage of evangelicals making the rounds to defend Miers.
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said Tuesday on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club that the Miers nomination, “is a big opportunity for those of us who share an evangelical faith in Christianity to see someone with our positions put on a court.”
James Dobson, the founder and chairman of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, told Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume: “We know people who have known her for 20, 25 years, and they would vouch for her. … I know the church that she goes to and I know the people who go to church with her.” On the Wednesday edition of his radio show, Dobson was more specific: “I know the individual who led her to the Lord.”
Liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, in today’s Washington Post, made a similar point: “Miers has almost no public record. Don’t worry, the administration’s allies are telling their friends on the right, she’s an evangelical Christian.”
Dionne made another point regarding Miers’ faith: “It is pro-administration conservatives, not those terrible liberals, who are making an issue of Miers’s evangelical faith. Liberals are not opposing Miers because she is an evangelical. Conservatives are telling their friends to support Miers because she is an evangelical.”
It’s the same reasoning behind liberals and Democrats not fighting John Kennedy or John Kerry’s run for the presidency, or Joseph Lieberman’s run for the vice presidency, because of religion.
But the reason to vote for those men was not primarily religion-based. With Miers, who has no judicial record, the administration’s top arguments to support her nomination amount to her friendship and loyalty to the president, and her faith.
That’s a standard that wouldn’t hold water for most national candidates. Robertson failed in his bid for the presidency, as did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Their candidacies left many people uneasy, because their experience level was so limited. That’s the case for Miers, too.
This item first appeared in Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.
Ed:LisaMPowered by Sidelines