Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day — to name his personal lawyer.

In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him, Bush may have tossed away his and our last chance to roll back the social revolution imposed upon us by our judicial dictatorship since the days of Earl Warren.

This is not to disparage Harriet Miers. From all accounts, she is a gracious lady who has spent decades in the law and served ably as Bush’s lawyer in Texas and, for a year, as White House counsel.

But her qualifications for the Supreme Court are non-existent. She is not a brilliant jurist, indeed, has never been a judge. She is not a scholar of the law. Researchers are hard-pressed to dig up an opinion. She has not had a brilliant career in politics, the academy, the corporate world or public forum. Were she not a friend of Bush, and female, she would never have even been considered. ~Pat Buchanan

As Mr. Buchanan observes elsewhere in the article, the lack of a paper trail was decisive in Ms. Miers’ selection. This is not unlike Judge Robert’s very limited “trail” of actual judicial rulings, which, unlike his legal briefs for the Reagan administration or private casework, could provide some clue as to how he might rule in the future. When I correctly guessed that John Roberts would be the nominee, I had known this from the first time I read about him when I saw that he had few court decisions with which the left could bludgeon him. Mr. Bush likes the appearance of success, whether or not it actually achieves anything, and in this he is simply a more obnoxious version of what all modern politicians are by habit. As with Judge Roberts, so with Harriet Miers: Mr. Bush wants no contentious confirmation battles, and so has chosen what he believes is the safest option, namely Souter encore, in the belief that breaking faith with his constituents will cost him nothing. So far, most “conservatives” in the GOP have given him no reason to fear a backlash. Mr. Buchanan says that the “conservative movement has been had” yet again, but an old saying comes to mind: “Fool me once…” Mr. Bush has betrayed many, many conservative principles, as anyone could see, so why should anyone have trusted that he would not, in the end, betray a constitutionalism in which he evidently does not believe?

He has wanted no contentious battles because, as he has shown with almost all of his nominees at least since the pitiful support shown Mr. Estrada, he will never rise to their defense or risk his own position on any domestic question of any size. He has shown that he will always keep his precious “political capital” tightly in his hands, like Smeagol grasping the Ring.

As Mr. Buchanan also notes, all of the bad instincts that Mr. Bush seemed to suppress in the Roberts’ nomination came back with a vengeance. Besides his desperate need to pander, in domestic politics, to official victim groups and their loudspeakers in the press, there the pathetic inclination to exalt hangers-on and old supporters with substantial and significant positions that should, one might think, be chosen on exceptional merit and not the sort of undue personal connections and influence that tend to drive Mr. Bush’s personnel decisions (think of FEMA’s Brown and Condi Rice). But I predict that, however disappointed “conservatives” in the GOP will be, these same “conservatives” will line up behind Mr. Bush yet again.