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FIRST-PERSON: An open letter to President Bush

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Negative conservative reaction to Harriet Miers’ nomination was never about her gender, education or other known qualities. It has always been about what was not known.

Obviously, Miers is a good attorney, a loyal friend and a person of the highest ethical standards. But, she had never served on any appellate court and had virtually no record from which to extrapolate a judicial philosophy.

If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that there is an inexorable leftward tug once someone begins serving on the Supreme Court. There was nothing in Miers’ background from which to determine whether she would be the kind of strong judge who could resist that temptation.

I am sure you are considering who you will nominate as the next Supreme Court nominee. Let me throw in some strategic suggestions.

First, choose someone whose professional life demonstrates thoughtful, reasoned and deliberate application of a conservative judicial philosophy to real-life court decisions. Obviously such a person would face tough opposition from liberals. But conservatives are ready for that battle and would rally on behalf of such a nominee.

Think back to last November. Many conservative voters cast their vote for your second term because they believed whoever was president this term could have two or more opportunities to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. Roberts was a strong nominee. Miers was not. You can do better; conservatives want you to do better.

Second, choose someone who has withstood the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. A controversial compromise allowed a dozen nominees to survive the filibuster threat, including Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. The Senate Democrats would look politically silly if they obstructed the appointments of one of these people after having just approved them for a lower court just a few months ago.

President Bush, you have done a wonderful job of reshaping the federal courts at the district and lower appellate levels. You have fought long and hard for five years to push through conservative judges whose impact will be felt long after your second term is over. From a judicial appointment point of view, you have been on a roll.

I know it has been a tough summer for you. Your approval ratings have been buffeted by hurricanes, bombed by events in the Middle East and undermined by the C.I.A. leak inquiry. But do not lose heart. There are many, many voters who even now want to go into battle with you. A good, solid appointee for the Supreme Court can be the cause to invigorate your supporters to stand up for the issues they hold most dear.

My third suggestion is to take some time and re-read the book of Nehemiah. He was a man who faced formidable obstacles to completing the task of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Nevertheless, Nehemiah did not focus on his enemies or on what they were threatening to do. Instead, he focused on God’s call on his life and the task God had set before him, and he accomplished his mission. That is what is called for in this situation at this time.

I have been and will continue to pray for you as you seek to do the best job you can. I am ready to help if you will just go ahead and lead in the right direction.
Brent Thompson practiced law for eight years in two states. Currently, he is the associate director for public relations at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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  • Brent Thompson