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Does Miers Have the Basic Skills to Be a Justice?

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

Of all the words written about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the '90s, Miers wrote a column for the Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her. Sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian. Consider this: "More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems." Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism." I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague. Nearly every debatable point is elided. Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that.
—David Brooks [10/13/05]