President Bush announced Monday his nomination of longtime campaign supporter and White House counsel Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court justice despite her having no judicial experience.Miers’ nomination could go either way, said Joanne Connor Green, associate professor of political science.
A number of groups are already concerned about the fact that Miers has not served as a judge prior to the nomination, Green said.
“Members of Congress expressed how important it is for someone to have had trial experience,” Green said.
One-third of all justices appointed to the Supreme Court had no prior judicial record, said James Riddlesperger, chairman of the political science department.
Senior political science major Austin Hardwick said it seems like the president knew he could not push through another very conservative nominee as he did with John Roberts.
“He picked a crowd pleaser,” Hardwick said. “He wanted someone he could get through with the least amount of resistance.”
Little is known publicly about Miers’ position on abortion, an issue of importance to outside groups on both ends of the political spectrum.
Riddlesperger said the lack of a judicial record could help Miers’ more than it could hurt her because there is no paper trail.
“Sometimes, it is difficult to project how appointees without judicial experience might vote on constitutional issues,” Riddlesperger said.
When David Souter was appointed to the Supreme Court, many thought he would be more conservative than he was. Instead, Souter has turned out to be relatively liberal, Riddlesperger said.
“(Miers) is just another personal friend,” said sophomore political science major Paige McCord.
To rebut any charges of preferential treatment, the White House produced statistics showing that 10 of the 34 justices appointed since 1933 had worked for the president who picked them.
McCord said Miers’ background makes her a worthy nominee but does not think she is going to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as a swing vote.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president had seriously considered 12 to 15 contenders for the job.
Miers is a graduate of SMU and was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.