In a very interesting essay for the New York Times Book Review, Judge Richard Posner observed that bloggers "are parasitical on the conventional media. They copy the news and opinion generated by the conventional media, often at considerable expense, without picking up any of the tab."
Although many bloggers took issue with Judge Posner's position, Article III Groupie definitely sees his point. A3G admits that she is frequently a news media "parasite," offering her own colorful commentary on matters previously reported by Big Media.
But every now and then, A3G does her own original reporting for this blog, disseminating information obtained from her own group of sources. And today's UTR mailbag contains some delicious proprietary information: an email from a source that A3G will describe only as a prominent trial lawyer who actually knows Harriet E. Miers. Here it is:
There is an old Gene Autry song that has the line "I've got a love knot in my lariat, and it reminds me of my Harriet." Ah, well.
I have known Harriet Miers for some twenty years -- not well, but in the context of litigation and ABA work. I think there is not enough evidence that she is qualified for a seat on the Court. For me, the scariest part of this scenario is the chorus of support led by Nathan Hecht, who is a self-aggrandizing smug ideologue of the right. And what a guy! You can almost see him smirking as he somehow lets it be known that he dates (has dated) both Priscilla Owen and Harriet Miers.
A3G agrees with her source that a compelling case for Justice Harriet Miers has not yet been made. A3G also would note that, within this blog's readership of "law nerds," having dated both SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers and the Lone Star Diva may be something to crow about; but outside the circles of legal dork-dom, it is a far more dubious accomplishment. (No one would confuse Justice Hecht with, say, Ben Affleck, who dated Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez en route to marrying Jennifer Garner.)
Sorry for the interruption; back to A3G's correspondent:
It is also scary that there are those lawsuits about the Lottery Commission and GTech during Miers' tenure, both suits involving some difficult allegations about influence and money and such. Somebody needs to put some subpoenas on the sealed court records. [A3G aside: Now there's an idea for those disgruntled Republican staffers to follow up on...]
All that said, Harriet Miers is a first-rate litigator who knows how to run a law firm and a complex lawsuit. She is smart and articulate. Why did she veer out of "law" and into the orbit where she now revolves? While in ABA leadership, she does not appear to have been out front on any issue except multi-jurisdictional practice, but she served in many positions that brought her into contact with the front line issues that the ABA discusses, including counsel for poor people, fairness in death penalty representation, federal habeas corpus and so on. I think she needs to tell folks more about that time, and we should hear from some of the great lawyers who were active in the ABA with her.
These are all fair points about Harriet Miers. Because her nomination is coming after that of John G. Roberts, an undisputed legal genius, Harriet Miers is suffering by comparison. In light of all the controversy and complaining about her credentials, one would expect Harriet Miers to be a total moron. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that, even if she's no John Roberts, Harriet Miers is a very intelligent and accomplished litigatrix.
Finally, a closing observation from UTR's correspondent:
Of course, Judge Jones does have a better academic pedigree than Harriet Miers, as well as the benefit of many years of service on the Fifth Circuit. A3G is reminded of the valid point made by Randy Barnett in his Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Ms. Miers would be well qualified for a seat on a court of appeals, where she could develop a grasp of all these important issues [of constitutional law]. She would then have to decide what role text and original meaning should play in constitutional interpretation in the context of close cases and very difficult decisions. The Supreme Court is no place to confront these issues for the very first time.
So, in the end, A3G agrees with her source's assessment of Harriet Miers: Although she may be "smart," "articulate," and "a first-rate litigator," at the current time "there is not enough evidence that she is qualified for a seat on the Court." And let's not forget: Harriet Miers once broke up with a man she was engaged to marry in a Denny's Restaurant!*
A3G thanks her source for this insightful and informative report, for which she is extremely grateful. To the rest of her readers: if you have any first-hand experience with Harriet Miers, no matter how minor, please email A3G right away!
* Just to be clear, the Harriet Miers-Jim Martin break-up took place at Denny's; Denny's was not the designated venue for their canceled wedding. The only thing worse than ending an engagement in a Denny's would be getting married in one.