Tuesday, October 4, 2005

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Gendered observations that make you go, "hmmm...."

Wow, talk about your night and day observations about how Miers' gender will affect her possible performance on the Supreme Court.

First, there's Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy:

[T]he fact that sheís a woman leads me to think that, unlike the likes of Michael Brown, sheís also competent and probably a pretty tough person. Itís hard to get to this point in U.S. politics without having those qualities if youíre a woman.... Iíd be surprised if her confirmation hearings showed her to be clueless or a pushover.

That's a lovely sentiment, but without digging too deep I can think of a few examples on both sides of the political fence who don't meet Healy's criteria. [UPDATE: Healy amends his assessment, but not on the gender issue.]

Then, there's this from the American Thinker's Thomas Lifner:

One of the lessons the President learned at Harvard was the way in which members of small groups assume different roles in their operation, each of which separate roles can influence the overall function. The new Chief Justice is a man of unquestioned brilliance, as well as cordial disposition. He will be able to lead the other Justices through his intellect and knowledge of the law. Having ensured that the Courtís formal leader meets the traditional and obvious qualities of a Justice, and is a man who indeed embodies the norms all Justices feel they must follow, there is room for attending to other important roles in group process.

According to a source in her Dallas church quoted by Marvin Olasky, Harriet Miers is someone who

taught children in Sunday School, made coffee, brought donuts: "Nothing she's asked to do in church is beneath her."

As the courtís new junior member, the 60 year old lady Harriet Miers will finally give a break to Stephen Breyer, who has been relegated to closing and opening the door of the conference room, and fetching beverages for his more senior Justices. Her ability to do this type of work with no resentment, no discomfort, and no regrets will at the least endear her to the others. It will also confirm her as the person who cheerfully keeps the group on an even keel, more comfortable than otherwise might be the case with a level of emotional solidarity.

Apparently, if confirmed, Miers would also have the prerogative to ground any Justice who stays out after curfew.

posted by Dan on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM


I'm very disapointed that no one has mentioned that Miers is not JUST a woman, but is a POST-MENOPAUSAL woman. Or mentioned that ONLY post-menopausal women have EVER been nominated to the SCOTUS.

Please, won't someone think of the menses?

posted by: Not on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

Lol, it's a shame, isn't it? I can't believe how people are freaking out for no apparent reason; it's not like things are going to change just because some people are scared.

To lighten the mood, I created my own list of supreme court nominations.

posted by: Sam on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

Katherine Harris? I would think that someone who doesn't back down to attempts to rewrite election law during a ballot count would definitely fit Healy's criteria.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

Your two counter-examples to Kieran's statement both came from well-connected families. Also, they got ahead in politics, not the private sector. Breaking into private corporate litigation in the 1960's, and reaching the top of a substantial firm, was much tougher.

posted by: arthur on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

Why do you describe Katherine Harris as clueless and a pushover? I realize that she wears more makeup than the women in your professional circles. It would be nice if academics had just slightly more discernment than to make judgments on that basis, but I won't hold my breath.

posted by: y81 on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

miers is unqualified full stop, that she is a woman only amends the statement to: miers is an unqualified woman. some u of c grad students have more specific gripes in this vein over on political arguments if you're interested (as though you need to read more people's complaints. lol.)

posted by: deva on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

I can learn to fetch coffee too. Can I get a Supreme Court nomination?

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

I'd like to see some evidence that being clueless and a pushover is a detriment to getting elected into Congress.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

Regarding fetching beverages for the Supreme Court: a bunch of years ago, I heard Lewis Powell explain that the junior Justice had always been the court flunky, but that when O'Connor was appointed, they stopped that practice and started getting their own coffee. Did Ginsburg have to fetch drinks?

posted by: JSinger on 10.04.05 at 11:03 PM [permalink]

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