Sen. Ken Salazar met with Harriet Miers for an hour this week. He reports he is not yet comfortable with her. He doesn’t feel as if he knows her.

“I just don’t feel comfortable saying I know this person,” Salazar told reporters who followed him to the Senate chambers following the meeting….”I think the major problem with Harriet Miers is she’s still a mystery woman,” Salazar said.

Salazar says “the dialogue was easier” with John Roberts. Think back to what Salazar said after meeting withRoberts. He was willing to trust that he would respect diversity because Roberts touted his daughter during their interview. They did some male bonding, and based on that, Salazar was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt?

Yet, Harriet Miers has a proven record of supporting diversity.

When Harriet E. Miers, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, was moving toward the presidency of the State Bar of Texas in 1992, she enthusiastically supported an effort by the group to guarantee positions on its board of directors to female and minority lawyers, her two immediate predecessors said on Saturday.

She was all for minority participation on the board,” said James Parsons III, the group’s president from 1990 to 1991, who initiated the policy. “When she became president, and she was our first woman president, she made a statement that the bar association should always reflect the community and large diversity of the population of the state.” Among the first lawyers to win appointment to the board under the program were Alberto R. Gonzales, the current attorney general, who is Hispanic, and Sheila Jackson-Lee, a member of the House of Representatives since 1994, who is black.

The Rocky article reports Sen. Allard makes similar comments :

“I think I’m getting to know her better,” Allard said Thursday. He said it was unfair to draw comparisons between Miers’ and Roberts’ personal styles. “I think there are a lot of people who are holding on, because they’re like me,” Allard said. “They want to get to know her.”

Where is this this “getting to know you” jargon coming from? It’s not like the Senators are planning on becoming buddies or going fishing with her after her confirmation. They will probably have no contact with her if she’s confirmed. Why does she have to bond with them? They should be judging her on herrecord rather than their intuition about how she’ll vote on particular issues. If they look, they’ll find her record.

Half of the cases coming before the Supreme Court involve criminal justice issues. As law professor Doug Berman wrote,

Harriet Miers, as a result of her work on improving legal services for the poor and aiding prisoner re-entry, has had distinct experience and likely has a distinctive perspective on important modern criminal justice issues.

Those comparing Harriet Miers to John Roberts should recall Roberts’ lack of experience in the trial courts.

  • He has never tried a case before a jury
  • He has never presided over a trial as a judge
  • He has little criminal law experience or expertise
  • He has almost no experience practicing before state courts
  • The sum total of his appellate experience is arguing 65 cases in 17 years.

The Supreme Court nomination process is not a popularity contest and it doesn’t involve rocket science. It’s about whether Miers has the experience and ability to be a Supreme Court Justice. Can she read and understand prior court rulings and apply them to current cases before the Court? Most competent litigators can. We’re trained to do that in law school.

Miers, like Roberts, and Justice Ginsberg before her, has no intention of stating how she’d rule on a particular issue, including abortion, that might come before the court. She has repeatedly said no one knows how she would rule on any given issue and that her personal views would not affect her court rulings. Either the Senators believe her or they don’t. It’s a credibility call, not a familiarity issue.