by John Hawkins | October 13, 2005 10:46 am
The White House has been desperately flailing around, trying to find some way, any way to quell the cacophonous din from their own base over the Miers nomination. Unfortunately, one of the straws they’ve clutched at is the religious argument:
“President Bush said Wednesday his advisers were telling conservatives about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’ religious beliefs because they are interested in her background and “part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.”
“People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers,” Bush told reporters at the White House. “They want to know Harriet Miers’ background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.”
The message here is essentially: “Conservatives should support Harriet Miers for the job because she’s a Christian.” The problem with basing support for Harriet Miers on those grounds is that religion is largely irrelevant to the job.
Remember John Roberts’ famous description of what the role of a Supreme Court Justice should be?
“Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.”
Could it be said that it’s a plus if an umpire is a devout Christian? In a general sense, yes, it may be indication of character. But, is it a pivotal factor? No. Having an umpire who knows the rules and calls the game fairly is the important thing, not what the religious beliefs of the umpire may be.
The same thing applies to Supreme Court justices and that’s why it’s so disingenuous and hypocritical for the Bush administration to try to use Harriet Miers’ Christianity to convince people to support her nomination.
Keep in mind that if and when Harriet Miers is asked by the Judicial Committee whether she will let her religious views interfere with her judgement on the bench, she’s going to say, “No.” That means if she’s telling the truth, the people who are supporting her based on her Christianity are being sold a bill of goods. On the other hand, if she’s lying, then that means that whether she’s an Evangelical Christian or not, her character isn’t so great after all.
That’s why the White House is wrong to try to prominently promote Harriet Miers’ religious views as a selling point for her nomination.
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