October 23, 2005
CHARLES FRIED on the Miers nomination:
OF COURSE, it is not necessary for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to have attended an elite law school to be qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court: Neither John Marshall Harlan nor his grandfather (famous for his eloquent dissent in the separate-but-equal decision) did, and Robert Jackson, perhaps the most elegant writer in the court's history, attended no law school at all.
And it certainly is not necessary that she previously have served as a judge on a lower court. Many of the great justices were new to the bench, starting with John Marshall, through Charles Evans Hughes, Earl Warren, and William Rehnquist.
What is indispensable is that she be able to think lucidly and deeply about legal questions and express her thoughts in clear, pointed, understandable prose. A justice without those capabilities -- however generally intelligent, decent, and hardworking -- risks being a calamity for the court, the law, and the country.
Read the whole thing.