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The debate over the Miers nomination

By Charles Bloomer
web posted October 17, 2005

Harriet MiersThe nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has generated the most vigorous debate among Conservatives and Republicans in recent years. Listening to the media, one would think that this debate signals the demise of the Republican Party specifically, and the Conservative movement in general. Every day since the Miers nomination was announced and the first opposition appeared, the liberal media has trumpeted the growing chasm, the widening ideological gap, the irreconcilable differences among the Right that will inevitably lead to the death of the Republican Party, the alienation of Conservative core support, and the casting of the Conservatives and Republicans into another 40 years in the minority party wilderness.

The focus of the debate differs from the focus of the media reporting. The debate boils down to a specific issue – Harriet Meirs’ qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court. The discussion has divided the Right into two groups: Those who believe President Bush’s “Trust Me” justification and those who would rather “Trust, but Verify”. The critics of the president’s nomination of Meirs are concerned that Meirs has no paper trail, no scholarly legal writings, and no experience on the bench that can be reviewed to determine her suitability for a lifetime appointment to he highest court in the land. At this point, most critics are not saying Meirs is not qualified, just that there is not enough evidence to decide either way.

The fact that there is a debate among the Right is, in itself, not newsworthy. What the media doesn’t seem to understand is that debate and disagreement are healthy. Conservatives and Republicans do not march in blind lock-step with the party line. Vigorous debate helps clarify and sharpen the stand on issues, the solutions to problems, and the proper role of government. The willingness to debate disagreements makes the party stronger by trimming out the deadwood.

The media wants to turn the Meirs nomination into a single issue argument, abortion. Will Harriet Meirs vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Unfortunately, President Bush has given credibility to this argument by reassuring critics that Meirs is pro-life. But as Robert Bork has pointed out, this appointment is about more than abortion, about more than Roe v. Wade. In her tenure as a Supreme Court Justice, the court will consider other cases that are important to the daily lives of Americans. What is Meirs’ position on private property rights? Will she vote to overturn Kelo v. New London and restore the primacy of private property ownership over land-grabbing local governments? What about her position on the rights of illegal immigrants? What is her position on the handling of enemy combatants? Does Meirs hold originalist views? Is she a strict constructionist when considering the constitutionality of laws? Will she become an activist judge who tries to legislate from the bench? In short, there is more to life than abortion.

Somehow during the discussion of the debate, disagreement with the president has been turned into disloyalty to the president. What is disloyal about pointing out perceived mistakes or missteps? Are critics being disloyal just because they refuse to be “Yes Men”? In addition to the spurious charge of disloyalty, critics have been labeled elitist, sexist, and snobs. These charges are made irresponsibly by some of the president’s supporters and gleefully reported by the media.

The media focus on the disagreement among the Right and the lack of attention to the substance of the debate make it difficult for those of us who are not Washington insiders to come to any informed conclusion about Bush’s selection. Granted, Meirs’ lack of a paper trail makes it hard to find substance to report, but that hurdle should not give the media license to make mountains out of molehills.

The Republican Party is not headed for destruction, nor is the Conservative movement on its last legs. The wedge reportedly being driven into the party and the chasm being widened do not exist. These reports are merely hopeful speculation by the left who want the Conservatives to fail. Since the bulk of the media leans left, the bulk of the media loves to report any disagreement among Conservatives as the death throes of a weak, feeble movement. The focus on the existence of the debate rather than on the substance of the debate is a disservice to the public.

This debate is a normal, healthy function for a truly representative political party. The loud, vigorous debates among Conservatives do not signify weakness; rather they reflect the solidity of the philosophy and principles that are the foundations of the right. The ability to debate reflects a movement dedicated to ideas and honest discussion, a loyalty among Conservatives to principles, ethics, and the Constitution.

Marching in lockstep is intellectually dishonest and philosophically unsound. We’ll leave that to the Liberals. After all, they do it so well.

Charles Bloomer is a Contributing Editor for Enter Stage Right and the creator of Liberty Call US.

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