Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dowd: Naughty Harry

Naughty Harry: Lawyering Without a License

"I was just coming to grips with the idea that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't need to have any experience for the job.

Now it turns out that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't even need to always be a lawyer in good standing.

Harriet Miers shared a little secret about herself on her application to be an associate justice: "Earlier this year, I received notice that my dues for the District of Columbia bar were delinquent and as a result, my ability to practice law in D.C. had been suspended."

Did that little dog on the birthday card she sent W. eat her dues?

Ms. Miers, then the White House counsel, remedied the situation after she got the letter. But weren't the Bush spinners making a case for her by reporting that she was really great at managing the paper flow when she was the president's staff secretary?

Now we discover that she could be such a scatterbrain about paperwork that a little tiny thing like being able to legally practice law slipped her mind while she was serving as the lawyer for the leader of the free world?

There was another odd, unfocused episode with the Republican senator Arlen Specter this week. He said that he and Ms. Miers had talked privately on Monday and that she had expressed support for two Supreme Court rulings that established a right to privacy and are viewed as the foundation for Roe v. Wade.

Before Ms. Miers could even forget her bar dues again, the White House said that Senator Specter was mistaken, and Ms. Miers called to tell him so. Mr. Specter was willing to say he'd misunderstood, and will surely want to clear all this up in the hearings.

But maybe he'll wind up sticking by his earlier statement: "She needs a crash course in constitutional law."

The White House gambits to soothe the wrath of the right and flesh out the views of Ms. Miers, in lieu of an actual judicial record, are creating more confusion. In order to sell her, officials had to expose her by sending her anti-abortion positions from 1989 to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She's on record as favoring one of the most restrictive positions on abortion: "actively" supporting a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal except when the mother is actually about to die (never mind if her health might be severely impaired or she's a victim of rape or incest)."

Read the whole thing...