Miers and the Top 100 Lawyers:
In President Bush's radio address this morning defending the nomination of Harriett Miers, he repeated the following claim:
Beginning in the 1990s, Harriet Miers was regularly rated one of the top 100 lawyers in America, and one of the top 50 women lawyers in the country.A few days ago, Tim Grieve at Salon.com (free access) took a closer look at the evidence supporting this statement. I'm not sure if Grieve gives us the whole picture — if not, I hope to hear about it in the comments — but here is his take:
[T]here's a circular sort of logic in Bush's claim about Miers' rankings. When Bush referred to the "top 50" and "top 100" rankings, he seemed to have in mind the National Law Journal's occasional listings of the nation's "most influential" lawyers. Miers appears to have made the magazine's 100 most influential lawyers list in 1997 and 2000 and its 50 most influential women lawyers list in 1998.Does anyone know if there is another side to the story? Was Miers on any "top 100" or "top 50" lists beyond the ones Grieve mentions?
Now, one might suggest that there's a difference between a "top lawyer" — which in our mind suggests someone unusually brilliant and well schooled in the law — and a "most influential" lawyer: Larry Tribe or John Roberts might make the cut for the first list; Jack Abramoff would sit comfortably on the second.
But let's accept for the moment that "top lawyer" is a fair sort of shorthand for "most influential lawyer." And then let's ask, why did the National Law Journal consider Miers to be so "influential"? If the NLJ items posted at the pro-Miers site JusticeMiers.com are any indication, it wasn't because she had a keen legal mind or some other qualification for the Supreme Court. It was, in large part, because she was so well connected, even then, to somebody named George W. Bush.
. . . When the NLJ named Miers to its 100 most influential lawyers list in 2000, it began by saying she was Bush's personal attorney, that she had served as general counsel for Bush's gubernatorial transition team, that she "handled background research, looking for possible red flags, during [the] early days of [Bush's] 2000 presidential campaign," and that Texas newspapers have suggested that she might be named attorney general or get some other "key administration post" if Bush were elected president.