James Dobson has announced the details of his conversation with Karl Rove about the Harriet Miers nomination. Most of those details are things that have since been publicly revealed, and Dobson wasn't willing to share them the details of a private conversation without permission. We now know about her evangelical faith, her extremely conservative and pro-life church, her past pro-life donations and organizational aid, and her attempt to get the American Bar Association to abandon its pro-choice stance. There was nothing about how she would vote on particular cases and nothing about her attitude toward Roe v. Wade itself. He doesn't think Rove has even talked to her about that.
What was most interesting to me is the piece of information that hadn't been made public that Rove has now given him permission to reveal. He says there was a short list of potential nominees, and Miers was on it. She wasn't on some lower tier list. But the short list got narrowed down in two ways. One was that Bush really did want a conservative woman on the court, something I would defend from those who think her sex is irrelevant. It's surely irrelevant for most issues coming before the court, merely procedural issues or those flowing directly from a judicial philosophy arrived at in ways not tied much to gender. But there are ways women's voices have been not as prominent that having more women on the Supreme Court can help remedy, and there is some moral motivation to want to increase women's representation in spheres where they are underrepresented, including on the Supreme Court. So I see no reason why Bush shouldn't consider women more strongly. There should be no guarantee of specific seats on the Supreme Court for women, but we know Bush isn't thinking that way. He initially nominated Roberts for O'Connor's spot. If he's only going to get two appointments to the Supreme Court, however, he apparently feels pretty strongly about trying to get one of them to be a woman. I see no problem with that at all.
The other way the list got shortened is from people telling Bush they weren't interested. We knew already that Edith Clement took herself out of the running. It's even possible that Bush asked her before asking Roberts, and she turned him down. After Chief Justice Rehnquist died, she made it public that she wasn't interested in being nominated for the Supreme Court. According to Rove, not a few other top candidates did the same thing, citing the political environment, not wanting to put themselves and their families through the spectacle that would almost certainly arise. If the short list was narrowed down to just women, and most of them took themselves off, with Miers remaining, it explains a good deal more about why Miers was the pick, even if Bush had really wanted people like Priscilla Owen, Edith Jones, or Janice Rogers Brown. This revelation doesn't answer all the questions or respond to all criticisms raised against Bush for nominating Miers, but I think, if you put it together with some of the other arguments I've been making, you end up with very little to say in criticism of Bush, particularly if you keep in mind that there most likely wouldn't have been 50 votes in the Senate to remove the filibuster permanently for judicial nominees and almost certainly wouldn't have been 50 votes in the Senate to confirm someone who has explicitly indicated a desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, which most of the people conservatives have wanted for this appointment have done.