Monday, October 17, 2005

The Wingnuts and Harriet Miers

The wingnuts don't like Harriet at all. This we already know. But the plan to get rid of her is only now becoming clear, at least to me. It has to do with that little comment James Dobson of (Patriarchal) Focus on Family made, the one where he hinted that he knows how Miers would vote on abortion. Now the Wall Street Journal boys have used this to set up the next round of the Get-Miers game:

Two days after President Bush announced Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination, James Dobson of Focus on the Family raised some eyebrows by declaring on his radio program: "When you know some of the things that I know--that I probably shouldn't know--you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice."

Mr. Dobson quelled the controversy by saying that Karl Rove, the White House's deputy chief of staff, had not given him assurances about how a Justice Miers would vote. "I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade," Mr. Dobson said last week. "But even if Karl had known the answer to that--and I'm certain that he didn't because the president himself said he didn't know--Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there, and it was never part of our discussion."

It might, however, have been part of another discussion. On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.

The call was moderated by the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association. Participating were 13 members of the executive committee of the Arlington Group, an umbrella alliance of 60 religious conservative groups, including Gary Bauer of American Values, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and the Rev. Bill Owens, a black minister. Also on the call were Justice Nathan Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court and Judge Ed Kinkeade, a Dallas-based federal trial judge.
What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: "That's all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls." (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was "very possible" he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)

This is all bad, we are informed. (Yes, it is. But what looks really bad about it to me is that sitting judges are part of such religious cabals.) It's all bad because we are not supposed to ask how Miers would rule on Roe vs. Wade, we are just supposed to make sure that she would rule the wingnut way. Without actually asking anyone. Get it?

In any case, this incident will be used to argue that the Miers nomination is in deep trouble, that she really should withdraw her name or all hell will break loose. The article I quote points out that stealth nominations such as Miers are the Democrats' fault because of the vicious way Robert Bork was investigated. So we liberals get what we deserve and therefore should filibuster Miers? Nah. The wingnuts will have to filibuster Harriet Miers. It could be fun to watch.

Is the Miers nomination a red herring? Something that will pave the way for a much more stringent wingnut nomination? I doubt that Bush plans things out this way, but the radical clerics of the Republican party would certainly love such a development.