McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–“U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Confirmation Hearing” has an erudite and august ring to it, don’t you think?
Don’t be fooled by the title. When Harriet Miers’ confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court begins, the only semblance of civility will occur during the introductory remarks. And perhaps not even then.
When Chairman Arlen Specter gavels the Senate Judiciary Committee to order Nov. 7, he might as well shout, “Let the inquisition begin!”
While Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent experience before the Judiciary Committee was not too harrowing, don’t expect the senators to be as delicate with Miers.
Even though Roberts is considered to possess a constructionist philosophy in reference to the Constitution, and thus conservative in his jurisprudence, the treatment he received by the liberals on the Judiciary Committee was almost humane.
With former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s unexpected death, Roberts became the President Bush’s choice for the top spot. As far as the liberals on the committee were concerned, they were simply replacing one constructionist jurist with another.
Miers will replace Sandra Day O’Conner, the retiring justice who was well established as a key swing vote on the Supreme Court. As a result, don’t expect Miers to receive the same courtesies Roberts enjoyed.
There is no way the liberal members of the committee will go lightly on a Bush nominee that has the potential to move the court toward a more conservative jurisprudence — more specifically, a nominee that could potentially be key in overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that swept away the abortion laws –- liberal and conservative -– of all 50 states.
While some opponents have criticized Miers’ lack of experience as a judge (she has none) it is only a smoke screen to cover their real concern — her views on abortion.
If you believe some of Miers’ critics, a Supreme Court nominee without judicial experience is unprecedented. However, several justices have had no prior experience as a judge. Among them are John Marshall, Earl Warren and Felix Frankfurter.
While they will poke and prod Miers on a variety of subjects, the main thrust of the liberal senators’ skewers will be aimed at her position on abortion.
Why all the attention on a single subject?
First, in learning a person’s position on abortion, you very likely discover their overall philosophical orientation. Very few conservatives favor abortion on demand and even fewer liberals oppose it.
Miers position on abortion could well indicate how she will view other issues such as states rights, gun ownership, etc.
Another reason the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will hammer Miers on the issue of abortion is because they are rabid proponents of the liberal sacred right of abortion.
The overwhelming majority of liberals on Capitol Hill have a litmus test for judicial nominees. That test is unyielding support for abortion on demand.
Most Democrats in Washington D.C. have yet to encounter a terminated pregnancy they won’t support, including the grisly procedure known as partial-birth abortion.
Expect the likes of Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein to dominate the inquisition of Harriet Miers. They will bash her with acerbic queries and bludgeon her with insulting innuendos. And that will be when they are being courteous.
For the most part, however, they will use the hearing to promote the tortured liberal logic that Roe is an untouchable precedent.
Liberals who assert that the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is somehow fixed and immutable are either ignorant of the court’s history or intellectually dishonest. When Roe is eventually overturned, it will not be the first time the High Court has reversed itself.
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation in public facilities, if they were allegedly equal in quality, did not violate the Constitution.
According to the liberal logic applied to Roe, the decision in Plessy should have constituted a precedent immune from challenge.
However, in 1954 the Supreme Court overturned the precedent set in Plessy with the decision it rendered in Brown v. Board of Education. The court said that separate is inherently unequal.
It took 58 years for the horrible precedent set by Plessy v. Ferguson to be reversed. With a justice like Miers, Roe v. Wade — another horrendous precedent — could be overturned in considerably less time.
It is the possible threat Miers poses to Roe, and not her judicial qualifications -– or lack thereof –- that have liberals terrified. As a result, her confirmation hearing will be anything but erudite and august. It will be brutal.
Kelly Boggs is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore. His column appears each Friday in Baptist Press.