Why Harriet Miers Mattered

Anita Hill in Ms. Magazine:

WAhillouthatever the criticism of Miers’ nomination, however, I believe that it was predictable given the way the president introduced her to the public. In previously announcing John Roberts’ nomination, President Bush touted him as the gold standard for nominees. Bush declared that he was chosen from “among the most distinguished jurists and attorneys in the country,” and cited his “intellect, experience and temperament.” The presence of Roberts’ wife and two children rounded out the picture of what the president wanted the public to accept as the rarefied image of judicial leadership.

In contrast, President Bush introduced Miers by citing “the past five years” of service to his administration. He gave her few accolades for her outstanding legal mind, her specific legal experiences and her long career. Physically, she appeared as a single woman without family members— as though kin other than a spouse and children are insignificant.

Days after Miers’ withdrawal from the nomination process, President Bush introduced her replacement, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., by referring to his “distinguished record, his measured judicial temperaments and his tremendous personal integrity.” Alito, like Roberts, was accompanied by his wife and two children. From all appearances, the president had hastily returned to the kind of nominee that had been successfully confirmed weeks before: a white male with an Ivy League education, federal judicial experience and a traditional family.

Anita F. Hill is professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

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