Ultimately, I think Jack Balkin gets the Harriet Miers pick right. By historical standards, she’s not particularly “unqualified” or crony-tastic—Eugene Volokh made a similar point yesterday, noting that corporate lawyers with presidential connections very often get put on the court. And she’ll help deliver exactly what Bush’s real base—namely, business interests, not the religious right or libertarian bloggers—wants:
[W]hat, exactly, does business want? Overturning the New Deal? The Constitution in Exile? The return of God to the public schools? The end of affirmative action? Outlawing abortion once and for all? Squashing gays and lesbians underfoot? None of these things. What business wants is stability, comfort, predictability, and an agile, productive, submissive and demobilized population. It wants a powerful executive that can protect America’s interests abroad. It wants a Congress freed from federal judicial oversight that is able to dish out the pork, jiggle the tax code and deregulate the economy according to its ever shifting concerns and interests. And it wants a Supreme Court that will give a pro-business President and a pro-business Congress a free hand, a Court that will protect the rights of employers over employees, advertisers over consumer groups, and corporations over environmentalists.
In that sense, she’ll be a perfect replacement for O’Connor, who was a very similar type of business-friendly, don’t-rock-the-boat type of judge. (And hey, back in July didn’t someone predict that just this very thing would happen?) Now I’m also guessing that Miers’ presumable willingness to help expand presidential wartime powers was a factor, but the business angle seems like the simplest and easiest explanation, and everything else is probably just overthinking it.