We have no idea whether the Senate is going to confirm Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. For once, it may actually be up to the Democrats, who right now are too busy watching and laughing at conservatives and their cat fights to be bothered with taking a stand. And that may take a while, considering that it's still three years and counting for any type of Democratic position on Iraq.
We do know that's there's a lot of head fakes going on right now. Miers is a conservative...but wait, she's pro gay-rights...but wait, she belongs to a fundamentalist church that opposes abortion...but wait, she used to be a Democrat..but wait, she supports "the Founders" interpretation of the Constitution...but wait...
Don't fall for any of it. And keep your eye on the ball. George Bush wants Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court for one reason, and one reason alone. The president -- and his minions -- want to concentrate an unprecedented amount of power in the executive branch. And Bush wants to use that power to further take away your rights, to use the military to keep order here at home -- and God knows what else.
And he knows that Harriet Miers will help him get there.
Where do we get these crazy ideas from? How about from Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Here's what he was reported saying earlier this week about Miers:
Mehlman yesterday unveiled a politically powerful argument linking Bush’s nomination to the war on terrorism. He said that as a former White House counsel Miers would know the importance of not letting the courts or the legislative branch “micromanage” the war on terrorism.
"Micromanage." Is that what the kids are calling the Bill of Rights these days?
This all starts with the John Roberts nomination. On April 1, Roberts -- then a federal appeals court judge in Washington, met with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (Miers' former boss in the White House counsel's office) to talk about the then-rumored vacancies on the High Court.
Just six days later, Roberts was seated on the appeals bench as a Gonzalez deputy argued in a key case in Bush's crusade to prosecute his war on terror -- allowing military tribunals to try the cases of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. One month later, Roberts interviewed with Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, among others, and he finally met Bush face-to-face on July 15 -- the very same day that Roberts and two other judges ruled on behalf of the administration in the Guantanamo matter.
Here's how the Washington Post spun it:
Nobody is alleging that Roberts sided with the administration to curry favor with Bush, but some academics say Roberts should have, at the very least, considered stepping aside to make sure there was not an appearance of conflict.
Appearance, indeed. The rest is history, and now John Roberts is the 17th Chief Justice of the United States. And if Miers joins him, the Bush White House is sure to have two solid votes in its war on terror -- and its war on civil liberties as well.
The Boston Globe gets it:
WASHINGTON -- As President Bush's counsel, Harriet E. Miers continued the expansive interpretation of presidential powers favored by her predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, who backed Bush's authority to hold terrorist suspects without trial, as well as the White House's right to withhold more administration documents from public disclosure than in the past.
Miers has also been outspoken in her support of reauthorizing the Patriot Act, which gave the executive branch new powers of surveillance over US citizens.
Now, Miers is Bush's choice to join the Supreme Court, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
That selection determines how much power a president can wield under the Constitution. Her nomination, announced Monday, followed the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who supported broad war powers for the president in a case he heard during his brief tenure as an appellate judge.
The two appointments, both of lawyers with extensive White House experience, have raised alarm among critics of the Bush administration's broad reading of executive branch authority.
"The fact that the president is now seeding the Supreme Court with people who have been handmaidens in his efforts to increase the power of the executive without any check or oversight whatsoever is very disturbing," said Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which sued Bush on behalf of prisoners at the US facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
That alone is troubling. But what troubles us even more is this: What exactly does Bush plan on bringing up before the Supreme Court in the next three years that is so important?
Well, unlike the president, we don't have the ability to look into people's hearts, so we can't say for sure. But we're alarmed that there may be a connection to Bush's recent, alarming plans for getting around the Posse Commitatus Act of 1878, which...
passed in 1878 after the end of Reconstruction, and was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or the Congress. Coupled with the Insurrection Act, the powers of the Federal government to use the US military for law enforcement are limited.
Not if Bush can help it. Just yesterday, the president was talking about using the military in response to an Avian flu outbreak, similar to his recent comments about the military in natural disasters:
Drawing a lesson from Katrina, Bush suggested that he should have the authority to use the military to seal off an infected region in a pandemic, as well as to help deal with natural disasters.
"It's one thing to shut down airplanes. It's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to avian flu," Bush said. "One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move."
To many Americans, that may sound reasonable in the wake of the Katrina disaster. But the truth is that Katrina only spun out of control due to Bush's inept cronies at FEMA, not because we need to send in the 82nd Airborne every time something goes wrong.
What Bush is proposing is a slippery slope. And he knows it will be challenged up to the Supreme Court.
And pretty soon, he'll know that he has the votes.