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Blessed are the meek

"Blessed are the meek" Continued...

Issue: "Miers doesn't fit the mold," Oct. 15, 2005

Ron Key, for 33 years the church's pastor, concurs with that history. He says that when he and Ms. Miers met in 1980, "I don't know how strong her faith was at that time. She came to a place where she totally committed her life to Jesus. She had gone to church before, but when she came to our church it became more serious to her. . . . Our church is strong for life. . . . We believe in the biblical approach to marriage." He says Ms. Miers has been dedicated to that church for many years, tithing to it, working for it, and absorbing its teachings.

Will her compass needle turn to Washington's heavy metal once a lifetime court position is in hand and constraints are off? No one knows for sure but it seems unlikely. Mr. Hecht says she's not a social butterfly who will be swayed by Washington dinner table conversation: "She goes to the dinners she's supposed to go to. She's not on the social circuit."

Her administration colleague says she's not going to pay much mind to the good reviews she could receive from top law journals and Ivy League law professors if she were to move leftward. Ms. Miers has never run in those circles and "of the hundreds of people I knew in the White House, she's almost uniquely unaffected by Potomac fever." That's because, her friends say, she's centered on Christ.

Her friends point to her Christ-like service. Rob Mowrey, 53, an attorney who worked with Ms. Miers at their Dallas law firm and has known her since 1979, talks about how in the 1990s, with an aged mom suffering from dementia, "Harriet moved her mother not only into her own house but into her bedroom, because her mother would wake up in the night and be distraught if she wasn't right there."

Judge Kinkeade praises Ms. Miers as "a great lawyer with perfect ethics" who's willing to sacrifice herself for others. When the Texas Lottery Commission was a corrupt mess, he says, the non-gambling Ms. Miers agreed to clean it up; the judge says, "I wouldn't have taken that job if you put a shotgun on me." He says she led the fight years ago to get Dallas lawyers to do pro bono work, and led by example by volunteering to help Exodus Ministries, a Dallas organization that helps ex-prisoners to get a life outside jail.

Journalistic skepticism sets in. Jokes about unethical lawyers aren't common by accident, and Texas lawyers tend to be a particularly tough bunch.

And even if the praise for Ms. Miers is all true, is it part of a spin cycle that distracts attention from question No. 2: Why should we think that gifts of self-sacrifice are needed on a court that has in recent years resembled a pit of vipers? Doesn't it need another conservative whose convincing writings can sway an entire generation of legal theorists?

Many conservatives are frustrated that Democrats nominate ideologues such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg who breeze to easy confirmation, but George W. Bush is pushing what they call a nice nonentity instead of one of the many brilliant jurists who have stood for conservative principle and could lead others to do the same. As columnist Michelle Malkin argues, "President Bush tells us that he knows his White House counsel Harriet Miers' heart. I have no doubt that it is a good one. But a good heart does not a great Supreme Court justice make."

That's a good debate to have. It's George W. Bush's analysis that "heart" is crucial, since a good mind by itself also does not a great justice make. And the Miers nomination is classic Bush. Nearly six years ago, when asked in an early debate among Republican presidential candidates to name his favorite philosopher, Mr. Bush famously said, "Christ, because He changed my heart."

Quin Hillyer, a blogger at confirmthem .com, exhibits the scorn of some conservatives for this "heart" emphasis: "I don't care if the Tin Woodsman (pre-wizard visit) is a judge as long as his brain can understand the importance of individual property rights."

But what's crucial is that a self-effacing nature bodes well for the upholding of an originalist position wherein justices are servants of the text rather than masters of it. This goes beyond the question of "identity politics" (yeah, let's give a spot to an evangelical with "heart"). Understanding of property rights is important, but even more important in withstanding leftward-ho tendencies is the realization that the Supremes are not Supreme.


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