September 14, 2008

BUT THE BELTWAY ONLY RESPECTS INSIDERS:

Put Palin on the Supreme Court: Washington's old-boy problem hardly ends at the Oval Office. (Dahlia Lithwick, Sep 13, 2008, Newsweek)

If there is a lesson to be learned about Sarah Palin's dizzying political ascent, it's that America really loathes Washington insiders, especially those tasked with working inside Washington. The surest way to affront the American voter is to offer up a candidate with an Ivy League education, experience inside the Beltway and D.C. connections. If Palin stands for anything, it's that when it comes to both the presidency and Pixar movies, nothing good ever happens until the Stranger Comes to Town. But while our contempt for the Washington life touches everyone in the legislative and executive branches, it's become almost a job requirement at the Supreme Court. This third branch of government is wildly overrepresented by insider lawyers with identical résumés. You can swap out one Ivy League law school for another, but beyond that, the bench is ever more populated by folks like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito—brilliant men whose chief job experience consisted of work for the executive branch followed by a stint on the federal bench. It's not that these are bad qualities in a jurist. It's just that a court that once included governors and senators and former football stars is now overrun by an elite cadre of mostly male, mostly East Coast lawyers. If ever there were a branch of government crying out for varying life experiences, it's the Supreme Court. And if any branch of government is in need of a mother of five who likes shooting wolves from helicopters, the court is it.

Except that when President Bush appointed her to the Court, Ms Lithwick had a problem with her experience and the attempt to shake up the institution, Deferential Calculus (DAHLIA LITHWICK, 10/21/05, NY Times)
OF all the mysteries surrounding President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, possibly the biggest is this: How could a man who got it so right with John Roberts get it so wrong with Ms. Miers?

If the lesson of the Roberts confirmation was to pick someone superbly qualified and watch him whiz through his confirmation, why did President Bush almost deliberately flout that wisdom by nominating an inexperienced crony?

But Chief Justice Roberts and Ms. Miers may have more in common than you think. Both their nominations reflect a deep concern about a too-powerful court and the president's troubling new hostility toward the institution.


Don't Google suck?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2008 9:01 AM
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