- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harriet Miers’ decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court was the correct one. No one questions Miss Miers’ qualifications as an accomplished and intelligent lawyer. She simply was not ready for the highest court in the land. The nomination process is never pleasant, especially to the Supreme Court, yet in the face of serious challenges to her credentials, Miss Miers maintained her poise and dignity. Now it’s time to move on.

We never thought President Bush nominated his personal lawyer out of weakness or timidity. The president’s record on judicial nominations has been — until Miss Miers — exemplary. And we remain confident that when he makes his next nomination, he will be prepared to meet the challenges of Senate Democrats and their liberal interest groups with the same determination for which he is famous.

As pleased as we are with the withdrawal of the Miers nomination, this is no time for celebrations. Assuming the president nominates a qualified conservative, the left will mount a hard fight. It will likely match President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork in 1987 in terms of viciousness. Democrats are already arguing that the failed Miers nomination has left the president vulnerable. Nonsense. All we have seen here is what happens when the president nominates somebody approved by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. With 55 senators, Mr. Bush still holds the advantage to nominate a justice in the mold of a Clarence Thomas or an Antonin Scalia. He must not squander this tremendous opportunity.

A qualified candidate is someone whose judicial philosophy extends beyond being merely anti-Roe v. Wade. Defending a strict interpretation of the Constitution in the intellectual crucible of the Supreme Court’s heretofore swing seat takes years of intellectual preparation. Fortunately, there are no lack of sound candidates who meet that standard. As long as the nominee meets these qualifications, conservatives are more than ready for the fight ahead. And we’ll just add that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales does not meet that standard.

Once Mr. Bush makes his choice, the Senate must move swiftly. Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter should schedule hearings within weeks of the announcement, after which Majority Leader Bill Frist should hold a floor vote before the Christmas break. Valuable time has already been lost and there is no good reason why the president’s nominee should not be on the bench by the new year. Then the president will have fulfilled his campaign promise to move the court in a conservative direction.

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