Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mulling Miers & Affirmative Action ...

Based on this latest Washington Times piece by Ralph Hallow and Charles Hurt:

The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday. "White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times.

In addition to Sen. Charles Schumer's (D-NY) recent comments on Meet the Press (Bloomberg wire, 10.23.05):

Senator Charles Schumer ... said in a separate interview that Miers hasn't yet ``met the burden of proof'' to show she is qualified for the highest court and she likely would get rejected if a vote on her nomination were held now. ``The hearings are going to be make-or-break for Harriet Miers in a way that they have not been for any other nominee,'' Schumer, of New York, said on NBC's ``Meet the Press.''

... Miers is looking more like a political albatross. However, we think that recent public revelations regarding her past support of affirmative action programs is what is driving fanatical conservative opposition to her nomination, thus forcing a withdrawal. We suspect that this is the leading subtext of that opposition. Washington Post reports:

As president of the State Bar of Texas, Harriet Miers wrote that "our legal community must reflect our population as a whole," and under her leadership the organization embraced racial and gender set-asides and set numerical targets to achieve that goal. The Supreme Court nominee's words and actions from the early 1990s, when she held key leadership positions as president-elect and president of the state bar, provide the first window into her personal views on affirmative action, an area in which the Supreme Court is closely divided and where Miers could tip the court's balance.

This could potentially place the African American political establishment between a political rock and hard place. While seeking to revive leverage within Democratic Party circles, Black elected officials, advocates and organizational leaders may have to compromise traditional stands on affirmative action issues in an effort to placate partisan interests. This is one of many unfortunate outcomes when the modern Black political establishment refuses to exercise leverage in both Republican and Democratic parties and, instead, zealously affiliates with one. This strategy lacks foresight and occassionally catches community interests unaware when political landscapes change.