Miers v. Ingraham

Richard Miniter has a devastating piece comparing Harriet Miers to talk show host Laura Ingraham for the Supreme Court spot at National Review. Consider this:

Miers’s undergraduate education was completed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1967. Ingraham graduated from Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. That’s not to say an Ivy League education is a prerequisite for Supreme Court service. It’s not. But as one of many details in one’s background, a highly selective admissions process is not nothing.

Campus conservative? No, Miers was essentially apolitical in the 1970s and gave money to various national Democratic politicians in the Reagan years. By contrast, Ingraham was a regular contributor to the conservative Dartmouth Review and worked in the Reagan White House.

Miers attended law school at Southern Methodist University, not one of the nation’s top 20 law schools at the time. Even today it is ranked 52nd best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Ingraham studied at the University of Virginia Law School, currently ranked eighth in the nation.

Federalist Society membership? It does not appear that Miers bothered to join. Of course, it was founded years after she passed the bar, but many conservative lawyers do join after law school. “But she supports the society,” says White House press person Dana M. Perino, and Miers has spoken at a number of Federalist Society events. Ingraham of course was a member.

Clerked for federal judge? Yes, Miers clerked for a U.S. District court judge Joe E. Estes in Dallas. Ingraham clerked for judge Ralph K. Winter on the second circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Clerked for U.S. Supreme Court? Miers did not, while Ingraham researched for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Age does not seem to favor Miers either. She’s 60; two decades younger, Ingraham would have more natural staying power.

Attorney at a top-20 national law firm? While a lot has been said about Miers’s accomplishments, her old firm is simply not a major player on the national stage. Even after a merger with another firm, the new outfit, known as Locke, Liddell & Sapp, was ranked no. 94 by The National Law Journal in 2003. That same year, Ingraham’s firm — Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom — was ranked no. 3 by The National Law Journal. So, at best, Miers was a big fish in a smallish pond.

Both Miers and Ingraham have White House experience. Ingraham was a speechwriter for President Reagan in his last two years, helping craft the president’s message on many of the vital issues of the day. Interestingly, despite what Bush describes as Miers’s “stellar record of accomplishment in the law,” he did not name her White House counsel in his first term. Instead, she was appointed staff secretary, a manager of presidential paperwork. While many distinguished people have served as staff secretary, including Brett Kavanaugh, it may say something about Bush’s view of Miers’s capacities that he first put her in such a detail-oriented staff job, rather than one grappling with major legal and policy issues. Miers only became counsel to the president, the top legal job in the White House, in February 2005. Seven months later, she was nominated for a Supreme Court seat.

Of course, Miers has other government experience. She cleaned up the mess at the Texas Lottery Commission. No doubt a vital public service. But Governor Bush did not urge her to join the state supreme court. Meanwhile, Ingraham served in policy positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Education. This seems like a draw.

Miers does not have much a paper trail, or at least one that the public will be able to see. By contrast, Ingraham has written two books, including one bestseller, as well as many bylined articles in national newspapers and magazines.

The president told a reporter Ms Miers is the most qualified female lawyer in the nation. Think he’d like to reconsider? And Ms. Ingraham isn’t even the best credentialed female out there.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Miers v. Ingraham

  1. I’m getting tired of the snark and bark about the fact that Miers did not attend an Ivy League school and the fact that she had not been on the bench. I think both of those things are virtues, as I’ve blogged here and here. While a good education counts for something, SMU has a reputation for turning out stellar real world attorneys, and I’ve never met the judge whom I haven’t thought would be better off not having served on the bench.

  2. My point isn’t about Ivy League or not. It’s just that I can produce a talk-show host with better credentials. I’d be more than happy to have a state school grad with the right experience. It doesn’t even have to be judge. It could be Supreme Court advocate, which was Roberts’ stock-in-trade.

Comments are closed.