George W. Bush has just nominated his White House counsel, Harriet Miers, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the United States Supreme Court. Miers has no judicial experience -- she's never served as a judge, never argued a case before the Supreme Court -- but she does have this: more than a decade of service to George W. Bush.
Miers served as Bush's personal lawyer when he first ran for governor in Texas, and she filled that role a second time when he ran for the presidency in 2000. When Bush came to the White House, Miers served as his staff secretary. When Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general earlier this year, Miers was named White House counsel. In that role, she has played a central role in helping to select and vet Bush's judicial nominees.
What qualifies her for the bench? Bush ticked off a long line of professional and civic accomplishments, and he said that he knows her "heart." But Miers' single most important qualification -- at least in the president's eyes -- may be her loyalty to him.
"In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met," David Frum noted the other day at National Review Online. "She served Bush well, but she is not the person to lead the court in new directions -- or to stand up under the criticism that a conservative justice must expect."
In an unusually long announcement speech from the Oval Office, Bush seemed tense and preemptively defensive as he named his pick. With Miers at his side, he acknowledged that she had no prior judicial experience but explained that numerous other Supreme Court justices had arrived at the court without having served as judges first -- including the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.