She was a woman named to one of the highest positions in the land. The choice was a shock. Immediately, calls went out that she was unqualified, and that the pick had trivialized the institution.
That woman, of course, was Harriet Miers.
When President George W. Bush named his White House lawyer to the Supreme Court in 2005, the backlash was almost immediate and her credentials were subject to withering review.
The harshest critique came not from Democrats, but from intellectuals within the Republican Party, who were concerned that Miers, who had been a corporate lawyer with a firm in Dallas before signing on with then-Gov. Bush, didn’t have the brainpower and background to advance the conservative legal agenda.
By all accounts, Miers was a reliable Christian conservative, but that wasn’t enough. The din grew so loud that Miers gave the president a way out. She withdrew her nomination, and Bush picked Samuel Alito, a long-time federal appeals judge–a choice that was met with acclaim by the conservatives who pushed Miers out.
While Alito seems to have settled in, some on both sides of the philosophical divide still lament that a chance to add a second woman to the court went by the boards. Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains just one of nine. Bush had tabbed Miers because, he said, he was intent on nominating a woman.
This time around, the controversial female nominee is Sarah Palin, who ascended to the governorship of Alaska after serving as a mayor of tiny Wasilla. Again, the pick seemed to come out of nowhere, and the shock is still being felt in some circles.