NYT 's Bumiller purported to read Miers's mind

››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

In an October 4 article on President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller recounted Miers's statement following Bush's announcement, writing:

[Miers] added, in a signal to conservatives, that she would not try to inject policy into her rulings. "If confirmed," she said, "I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong, and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution."

Perhaps Miers did intend her assertion as "a signal to conservatives." But if Bumiller knows for a fact that that was Miers's intention, she didn't tell readers how she came to know that. More likely, Bumiller was presuming that was Miers's intention because someone who "strictly appl[ies] the laws and the Constitution" is what conservatives claim to want in a judge, without being asked by the media to explain what they mean -- or without ever having to explain why, by at least one measure, those justices whom conservatives hold in highest esteem are also among the most "activist" on the court.

And, if Bumiller was merely inferring Miers's intention, why would she assume that it is conservatives who place a higher premium on a justice who won't "inject policy into her rulings"? After all, as the Times' David D. Kirkpatrick reported in a separate October 4 article, it was Miers's supporters who attempted to reassure conservatives of Miers's "pro-life" bona fides by noting that she contributed to anti-abortion groups and that she spearheaded an effort to get the American Bar Association to retract its official statement in support of abortion rights. And, reported Kirpatrick, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, a friend of Miers, assured conservatives in a conference call after the announcement that Miers "personally opposed abortion and had once attended 'pro-life' events with him." In noting those actions by Miers, wasn't it her supporters who were suggesting that she would, in fact, inject her personal views opposing abortion rights into her decision-making? Shouldn't it be abortion rights advocates, then, who wouldn't want Miers "to inject policy into her rulings"? Wouldn't it be abortion rights advocates who would want someone who recognizes a "responsibility to keep our judicial system strong," presumably a nod to proponents of stare decisis and respect for long-standing precedent like Roe v. Wade?

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Miers Nomination
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