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Monday, October 17, 2005

Harriet "Dred Scott" Miers - An Assurance Wrapped in an Enigma



During the second Presidential debate in 2004, George W. Bush painfully bungled a carefully prepared answer on abortion:

I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. I would pick somebody who would strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I guess, of the kind of person I wouldn't pick.

I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words "under God" in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights.

That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. We've got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make law; judges interpret the Constitution.

And I suspect one of us will have a pick at the end of next year -- the next four years. And that's the kind of judge I'm going to put on there. No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution.


The Dred Scott case is almost universally recognized as one of the most horrendous decisions the Supreme Court has ever handed down. Basically, the facts of the case were ignored because it was determined that Dred Scott - as the descendant of a slave - was not a citizen of the United States and therefore could not file suit.

Most liberals were left scratching their heads over the reference. After all, no one has claimed that Blacks are exempt from having citizenship in my lifetime (although many people were trying to limit what citizenship meant). It came off as a non-sequitor - further proof that George W. Bush simply doesn't have the public speaking skills necessary to be President.

It's evidence how badly liberals in America understand their opponents. By and large, we can't even understand the language they are speaking. This leaves us open for all kinds of rhetorical traps where we cannot get ourselves out of jeopardy and onto safe ground.

How does Dred Scott relate to abortion rights? Ask the Knights of Columbus. Ask Hans Zeiger. Ask the National Review. Ask George Caylor.

What the President was saying is that his non-litmus test is going to be a litmus test. By linking abortion to Dred Scott, he is saying that a fetus is a citizen of the United States and is thus entitled to the full protection of law. That means that all abortion is, de facto, murder and illegal.

It also provides an attack-proof defense. How is anyone going to ask, "Do you think Dred Scott was decided incorrectly?" and not come off sounding like a racist? This is what allowed John Roberts to smile and say he would not allow his personal opinions to intrude on Court deliberations - because his personal opinion has been morphed into Constitutional principle.

This is what President Bush means when he says, "...part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion." It's what Dobson meant when he said that the only thing Karl Rove had told him was, "...what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and had fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life."

In other words, she passes the non-litmus litmus test. Her nomination is the result of liberals painting Justice O'Connor as an acceptable moderate - which meant that the President had to tack hard to the right to look like he wasn't bowing to their demands.

With the way she's kept her mouth shut over the years, there is little to raise legitimate objections. There is this, though - Do you think a fetus is entitled to full protection of law? That is a Constitutional issue because the Constitution only confers citizenship upon people at birth. To say "yes" means that she is not the strict constructionist she is being portrayed as. To say "no" will mean that the Conservative Christians will withdraw their support of her nomination. To answer anything else means that she doesn't have the scholarship necessary to fulfill the obligations of her post.

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