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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 7, 2005 / 4 Tishrei, 5766

What qualifies one for the Supreme Court?

By Jonathan Turley

Turley
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In his announcement of the nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, President Bush concluded with a simple and direct statement to Congress: "I ask the Senate to review her qualifications thoroughly and fairly and to vote on her nomination promptly."

On its face, it seems straightforward enough. Like the president, most senators speak of "qualifications" as if the term is self-defining or obvious. Yet, after more than 200 years, neither the Senate nor law professors have agreed on what constitutes a "qualification" for the nation's highest court. Indeed, looking over the past 157 nominations (and 42 unsuccessful nominations since 1789), there is little consensus on what constitutes a truly qualified person to sit on the court.

Most nominees, like new Chief Justice John Roberts, do not face such questions after years of prominent legal roles, including service on a prior court. Miers, however, has one of the slimmest resumes in history for a Supreme Court nominee. A graduate of Southern Methodist University Law School, Miers spent most of her career as a commercial lawyer in Texas. She served as the chairperson of the Texas Lottery Commission and a member of the Dallas City Council. Besides dispensing oversized lottery checks, her most notable resume item is her friendship with President Bush — serving as his personal lawyer, staff secretary and later his White House counsel.

Just how good?

To say that Miers is unqualified is not to say that she is without qualifications as a lawyer. Rather, the question is whether a lawyer must have an outstanding background to justify one of nine seats on the highest court. Miers spent decades in the law without making a substantive contribution to the development of it.

Indeed, in addition to her friendship with the president, Miers' lack of a record to review (and criticize) is viewed as one of her greatest strengths: a type of no-qualification qualification.

Not surprisingly, presidents often minimize the role of the Senate in reviewing their nominees: demanding deference from the Senate for any nominee with a respectable, if not respected, background who does not publicly proclaim an intent to run amok as a judicial activist.

For their part, the Democrats appear unable to offer a single coherent thought on these nominations, let alone a coherent definition of qualifications. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, has left many people scratching their heads in recent weeks as he randomly proposed names of everyone but Cher for the court. In addition to Miers, Reid recommended various Republican colleagues for the court despite their support for legislation previously denounced by Democrats as abusive and unconstitutional.

Yet, qualifications have been an issue in past nominations. In 1970, President Nixon nominated Judge G. Harrold Carswell for the court. While he had served on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Carswell was immediately attacked for his less-than-stellar resume (as well as alleged anti-civil rights views). Described as a "dull graduate of the third-best law school in the state of Georgia," witnesses chided Carswell's lack of any scholarly articles or notable opinions. Pro-Carswell Sen. Roman Hruska, of Nebraska, did not help matters when he defended the nominee by declaring, "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"

Apparently, the mediocre lobby was, well, mediocre. Carswell was defeated by a vote of 45-51.

Resisting cronyism

If qualifications for the court are debatable, one disqualification has long been recognized. Though Alexander Hamilton generally encouraged deference to a president's choice, he stressed that the Senate should reject nominees who are the product of cronyism. Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that a president should be "ashamed and afraid to bring forward ... candidates who had no other merit than that ... of being ... personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure."

Miers' nomination has widely raised outcries of cronyism, a practice that has long been out of favor for the esteemed court. Few have seriously argued that Miers would be on the short list, let alone the nominee, for the court on the basis of merit. The primary objection to Miers has nothing to do with her likely voting record, but whether it is true, as the president insisted in a rare Rose Garden defense this week, that she was "the best person I could find." Leading conservatives have refused to accept that claim and denounced the nomination quite vocally.

Their anger is understandable.

This was the moment that conservatives had long waited for. For the first time in decades, the court will have a stable conservative majority. This nomination was expected to herald in a type of conservative renaissance on the court, crafting a new bold vision in legal areas long arrested by 5-4 divisions on the court. With Chief Justice Roberts, Bush had the ability to appoint the conservative equivalents to Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis — gifted legal intellects who could bring depth and breadth to the court's new vision. Instead, Bush chose someone of greater personal than historical significance.

The question is now whether the Senate is capable of meeting Hamilton's test in resisting a nomination offered primarily for a president's pleasure. It seems more likely that the dream of a judicial conservative renaissance will succumb to a combination of blind loyalty and presidential whim. Let no one say qualifications do not matter. In securing this questionable confirmation, Bush will be remembered by many as a myopic president who could not see a legacy waiting just beyond his small circle of friends.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.

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