Sunday, October 23, 2005

Harriet Miers, Accommodationist

What I love about blogging is that I have complete freedom in editorial control. Often I write about topics of little relevance to the major news items of the day. On certain topics that seem to get much attention in the blogosphere, I remain indifferent for the simple fact that it isn't very important to me. I suspect some readers never the less are interested to know my position on such major topics. The whole issue of Harriet Meiers is one of them.

Although I'm very engaged in political events, I'm simply uninterested in judicial issues and legal controversies. I admire those who can process and articulately debate court decisions and constitutional law in general. Somehow it all seems to abstract for me and it marshalls tremendous intellectual resources which I am too unwilling to invest any of my own in. As a conservative, I generally favor the 'constructionist' view of constitutional law since it agrees best with my libertarian political views and cartesian rationalist worldview (I am open to readers' comments regarding the truth of the latter statement). Still, I feel I can't contribute much of an original take on common legal topics of the day as well as other more talented bloggers scan.

That being said, I will offer my opinion of legal import: I oppose the Harriet Miers nomination. Upon first hearing the news of her nomination, I took a wait and see approach before declaring my position. I knew that in being a personal friend of Bush, many would be upset especially to conservatives who believe strongly in meritocratic principles. I read my usual conservative pundits online and tried to divine consensus, and at first it seemed evenly split. Still, I was open to the benefits of nominating an outsider and someone with more 'real world' skills for an overly abstract and at times esoteric supreme court. As facts have come out about her background, her actual positions on major issues, and of others' accounts of their time spent with her, I became more convinced that the president nominated a real dud. In spite of her success as a corporate lawyer, her intellectual prowess is evidently well below the integrity of the country's highest judicial body.

What really solidified my opposition to Miers was what she was doing in my backyard, namely, the Dallas city council. I have such contempt for that governing body and what they have allowed to happen to my hometown under their watch that anyone associated in maintaining the status quo, as she was doing as council member. I acquired a great insight into Dallas politics recently while reading a post by Rod Dreher, an editorial writer for the local rag, the Dallas Morning News. He referred to Jim Schutze's book The Accommodation, which describes an informal but enduring agreement between the wealthy conservative elites of the Dallas with black civil rights leaders which promised greater political representation for the latter in exchange for a relaxation of racial tensions.

At first it seemed obviously defensible, lately many Dallasites and former residents (who fled to the suburbs) have come to regret this deal. It has made the city ungovernable, the mayor extremely week, the city council a national joke, and law enforcement ineffective an unusually high crime rate. Harriet Meiers was part of this conservative Dallas elite and did not have the forsight to understand the consequences of the deal. She made it very clear that harmony must be maintained, even at the expense that certain black political leaders would take advantage of their new powers in city government to the detriment of their own constituents. Dallas politics is quite depressing, if nothing for the lack of inspiring individuals who would challenge business-as-usual in the council. It's why the current mayor, the feisty Laura Miller, has been endearing to me, as she tries unsuccessfully to overturn the corrupt orthodoxy Dallas leaders and exposes her opponents for the pathetic representatives they are.

If Meiers couldn't see the slow-moving trainwreck that is the Dallas city council, then it's pretty clear she wouldn't be able to understand the consequences of major judicial decisions required by the supreme court.