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Some Are Concerned That Main Selling Point For Miers Is Her Faith

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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This item first appeared in Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.

Ed:LisaM

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About David R. Mark

  • alethinos

    Not to worry… According to Bush but she and #1 are on a “mission from God”.

    This is the time to sing the blues… Brother…

    (author apologizes for pun – by court order he’s allowed one per month)

    Alethinos

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Thanks for making this point. The idea of a Supreme Court nominee being “sold” to some constituency on the basis of her specific religious faith should be anathema to all reasoning Americans. But then, there aren’t a whole of reasoning Americans in Washington these days. One wonders why the White House is even bothering to deny the reports that Bush claimed to have been told “by God” to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • G. Oren

    As a conservative Republican, I’m disappointed in Bush’s choice. There are several women judges who could have filled this spot . That Bush chose to put forth Miers, at the same time as his administration is awash in accusations of cronyism, is a stick-in-the-eye to all those conservatives who have waited for years to see another Scalia like figure appointed to the court.

    That Miers may be a stealth conservative – due to her evangelical attachments – is really no solace. In fact, her faith has nothing to recommend it without demonstrated competence. Martin Luther said he’d rather be ruled by a competent turk than an incompetent Christian. I’m not saying that Miers is incompetent – certainly she must possess abundant intelligence to have accomplished what she has. My point is, we just don’t know, and we should know.

    It appears again that Bush does not take seriously his position and the position of the country. That is, he prefers loyal friends to well vetted, qualified judges. That Ms. Miers may also be a committed Christian is fine and dandy, but does that make her a good choice for Supreme court justice?

    Curioser and curioser.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Good article. As a lawyer who once had respect if not reverence for the Court, I am horrified at what it’s turning into.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Once someone puts on those black robes, everybody forgets their background, which is why so many people seem to think that the last couple of nominees have been unusual. There have been some real doozies on the court in the past!

    People who think that Miers will vote a certain way because she is an evangelical Christian are bound to be surprised. I know many, many evangelical Christians, and while they lean to the right, they’re not nearly as predictable politically as many seem to imagine.

    Only time will tell, as with all new justices.

  • http://jabbs.blogspot.com david r. mark

    I agree with that point, Phillip, which is why I included the comments from Green.

    Stereotyping is never a good thing.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    “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.”

    Miers isn’t running for president, and the people don’t have a direct say in her appointment. A lot of people wanted a non-judge, and she fits that criteria. She’s got plenty of courtroom experience and 30+ years as a practicing attorney. She may not be a ‘fun’ appointment, but the court needs a balance of perspectives, including that of a working lawyer with a background in government.

    Personally I’d have liked to see Giuliani nominated if they wanted a non-judge, but he’d never pass muster with the far right, who need to be placated with an appearance of religious righteousness in order to satisfy their constituencies.

    Dave