Religious Test for Harriet Miers

With no judicial opinions to examine, supporters of the Harriet Miers find themselves arguing for the nomination on religious grounds -- not always comfortably and in sharp contrast to the debate over John G. Roberts.

Prominent conservative James Dobson of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family is one of a number who support Miers at the behest of the president in part because of Bush's assurances that she is a devoted evangelical.

Liberal E.J. Dionne is quick to note that there is an element of hypocrisy to the conservatives' newfound appreciation for the religious beliefs of the nominee, since many Republicans argued strenously against bringing up Roberts religion during the Chief Justice's nomination battle.

John Dickerson writes in Slate about how the Miers nomination has made the rift between the religious right and the secular-intellectual right all the more obvious.

And there are clearly some on the right who are uncomfortable with bringing Miers's religion into the mix.

Kate O'Beirne of the National Review gets right to the crux of the issue on Meet the Press:

"Because Harriet Miers doesn't have [well-understood views on the Constitution], surrogates of the White House are pointing to her personal opinions, which she shouldn't be bringing onto the Court, and to the fact that she's an evangelical Christian, which some supporters of the president find persuasive. We shouldn't care about what her personal creed is. We want her to be faithful to the Constitution. But they can't make those arguments on her behalf because she's expressed over the years no interest in or opinions on any of these constitutional issues."

Once a White House staffer with Miers, David Kuo writes on Beliefnet that conservatives fear Miers will morph on the court into more of a moderate, as Anthony Kennedy did, because Miers lacks the "core convictions" regarding conservative constitutional principles. But Kuo is confident that her character as a Christian won't change. GOP Webmaster Patrick Ruffini is convinced Miers is "One of us."

Matt at the Stones Cry Out blog offers a warning to his fellow evangelicals. "I have two words for anyone who'll support Harriet Miers simply because she's an evangelical: Jimmy Carter."

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost is also skeptical that simply being an evangelical automatically means dedication to conservative jurisprudence. Nonetheless, "Bush hasn't broken his campaign promise," he says. "At least not yet."

I am one who isn't bothered by questions about religion. What bothers me is the administration's audacious proposition that in absence of other obvious qualifications for a seat on this country's high court, religion alone is a reason -- indeed, the reason -- to accept the president's choice.

* * *

Some related items of interest:

More on Miers's work with Exodus Ministries.

Here's what you can tell from her service in church.

Slate debunks some popular misconceptions about evangelicals.

Billy Valentine exclaims, "Harriet Miers is pro life!" Miers also has called abortion "murder," Valentine says -- a tidbit he found out thanks to "an exclusive e-mail to my dad."

If you would like to send an exclusive e-mail to my dad, send it to debate@washpost.com. I promise I'll give it to him.

By Emily Messner |  October 10, 2005; 10:45 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
Previous: Ann Coulter Isn't Completely Wrong | Next: The Miers-Roberts Double Standard

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Her confirmation hearings are going to be so entertaining. I am thinking of calling in sick and grabbing myself some popcorn so I can fully enjoy the fireworks.
So much religious goodness. Mmmm...

Posted by: Bob P. | October 10, 2005 02:52 PM

President Bush is to CONSERVATISM as Elmer Gantry was to the MINISTRY. Porus borders, massive giveaways to the rich, huge deficit spending, appointing Harriet Miers: thats conservatism? Nope: thats slick self promotion.

Posted by: EW Snyder | October 10, 2005 09:53 PM

The only meaningful measure of Harriet Miers *is* her religion...which should scare the conservatives (at least) as much as it scares me. I don't care what she professes to believe, but in a position where thoughtful, well meaning individuals can disagree, how you apply your beliefs to real issues will show through...and Harriet Miers is an empty slate.

Do conservatives really labor under the impression that Jesus was a Republican? Would Jesus be bombing Iraqis for political (or monetary) gain? Torturing 'detainees' for the heck of it? Would Jesus line the pockets of mega-corporations at the expense of the poor? The very worst-case scenario for the honest, conservative, Republican (as defined by the Bush presidency) would be a Harriet Miers who voted her stated beliefs.

However, coming from the Bush II administration, it is impossible to take Harriet Miers at face value. I suspect her religion is on a par with her President's -- where, somehow, he has managed to find moral justifications for a litany of immoral decisions...

I've long labored under the (strong) impression the President Bush is weak and, basically, incompetent. I still think I'm right, but, competent or not, I am absolutely convinced that he is no more a Republican than I am (though I have no idea what he *is*...and I'm pretty sure what I am.)

The only problem with this conviction of mine is that I am certain there are intelligent and thoughtful Conservative Republicans -- but they all seem to think only good things about the president. This confounds me.

Post Brownie (post all of the miserable things that have happened in the last 5 years, of which Brownie was actually insignificant), I keep expecting a thoughtful conservative or at least an honest Republican to stick his hand up and say "Stop! This isn't what we (they) stand for! ...This is crazy." (Because it is.)

And, to be fair, when faced with (at best) a hopelessly weak choice for the Supreme Court, some of the actual conservatives in the Republican Party are starting to say something...though nobody seems to be listening.

President Bush has repeatedly shown total and complete contempt for not only non-Republicans, but also for regular, card carrying, Republicans...actually, who hasn't he shown contempt for? Where he could choose to use his power to help his constituents, his nation, or his world -- or he could choose to help a crony, President Bush has been consistent and dependable: "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie!"

Harriet Miers, confirmed or not, is the logical extension of a Presidency unmarked by meaningful oversight, convinced of its own invincibility and omnipotence, and completely unconcerned with the future...not just my future -- or that of my children -- but yours and your children's too.

Until the Republican Senate, Republican House, and Republican Courts draw a line and say: "Enough!" President Bush and his "team" will continue to express their contempt -- as evidenced by Harriet Miers.

Posted by: Bob (In Denver) | October 11, 2005 02:04 AM

Are not the Justices largely influenced by the clerks who do all the research for them, giving them the basis for or against whatever their inclinations might happen to be?

Posted by: Fred.wenzel@Prodigy.net | October 11, 2005 02:36 PM

Has everyone forgotten that Article VI of the Constitution clearly mandates that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States"? It appears that this is precisely what is going on right now- a nominee's religion should not be relevant, either as a pro or a con. It seems to me quite hypocritical to claim for our President to claim to be a "strict constuctionist" of the Constitution and then claim that the reason why his nominee is qualified is because of her religion.

Posted by: TC | October 12, 2005 05:14 PM

Maybe the Supreme Court could use a non-judge. But is this the BEST person without a judicial background Shrub could find? I assured my family in Ireland after the 2000 election that the US has survived Presidents that were as incompetent. The real question is can we survive this one?

Posted by: CAF | October 12, 2005 05:58 PM

I'm sick of the whole thing. What a travesty on democracy and truth.

Posted by: Mary in Chicago | October 12, 2005 09:08 PM

When I used to work in the US, all companies had to bide by Federal law on equal opportunities which state

"Federal laws and regulations, state laws and regulations and Executive Orders make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship.. etc "

Now bush openly says that Religion is a factor in Ms.Miers's nomination. So it implies that if you are an american and if you are a Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim you don't have a chance. If this is not discrimination what else is? I think Mr. Bush is in serious trouble if someone files a case

Posted by: kalyan | October 12, 2005 09:50 PM

The opportunity cost of nominating Harriet E. Miers to succeed Justice O'Connor is steep.

Consider instead Judge Janice Rogers Brown. She currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Before that, she was an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. Much earlier, she was the daughter of black sharecroppers.

Imagine self-styled "champions of the poor" like Senators Kennedy, Kerry and the other mandarins on the Senate Judiciary Committee lecturing her on the issues of race and poverty. Priceless.

Posted by: Mike in Torrance, CA | October 13, 2005 01:54 PM

Another "talking out of both sides of the mouth".

"W" has done this over and over. He cashed in on the support vets and active duty has given the GOP over the years and stabbed us in the back (pay, retirement, etc.), Carl Roves ("Fire anyone who leaked..."), Iraq (WMD), and now the Supreme Court (amoung other things too numerous to count).

After the media tells us (I'm suspicious of the media, too) that he claimed that Roberts' religion wasn't an issue I'm told that Miers' is an asset.

I may be just a poor dumb bystander in this fracas but I still can recognize the smell of rot.

Please don't anyone tell me shut up because I don't understand the issues because I don't believe I'm alone and if all of us get as skeptical as I am we're headed for meltdown.

Posted by: Al Deibell | October 14, 2005 01:07 AM

Emily, religious questions do bother me. Religion is one of the most emotionally laden topics in America right now. It underlies all of the partisan divisions that afflict us and is part and parcel of the reason that an incompetent, anti-intellectual, born-again idiot was able to worm his way into the Presidency.

There was a great deal of profound truth in that glaring headline in a foreign newspaper following Bush's re-election that read: "HOW CAN 59 MILLION AMERICANS BE SO DUMB?" A goodly portion of that 59 million was from that sector of the electorate that dreams of establishing God's Kingdom on Earth right here in America as seen through the eyes of men like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and James Dobson.

And part of that involves placing born again idiots on the Supreme Court as well as in the White House and Congress. One does not have to look very far and wide to see how much damage a born again idiot can do once in office.

Posted by: jaxas | October 14, 2005 11:08 AM

one not yet 18 but politecly inclan thinks shes great for the job


thank mike henry
plainview hs s@d

Posted by: mike henry | October 17, 2005 10:48 AM

Harriet Miers is a mistaken nomination. Bush is asking the people to blindly follow him without any proof of Miers' past or insight on how she would vote in court.

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Posted by: charpla | October 23, 2005 02:57 PM

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