October 23, 2005
Flipping the Presumption
Posted by Gordon Smith

When a President nominates a candidate for the Supreme Court, I usually begin with the presumption of support. Or at least not active opposition. With Harriet Miers, the presumption flipped quickly, and after a week of hearing "defenses" of her "qualifications," I started calling for her withdrawal.

Of course, I don't have a vote on her confirmation, but if Chuck Schumer is right, the presumption of confirmation has flipped in the Senate, too.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said, "I think if you were to hold the vote today, she would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor."

If this is true, it is the most important piece of information I have heard about her potential for confirmation. Once the Senate has flipped from a presumption of support to a presumption of rejection, I suspect that Miers will have a very difficult time moving votes back. The reason is simple: there is comfort in being with the majority. Moving back to support at this juncture entails taking a chance, and why would a Senator take a chance for Harriet Miers? Party loyalty? Perhaps. But most Senators know a higher loyalty, one that was the target for George Will: loyalty to self.

Any Republican senator who supinely acquiesces in President Bush's reckless abuse of presidential discretion -- or who does not recognize the Miers nomination as such -- can never be considered presidential material.

The greatest love of all. Music to my ears.

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