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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Harriet Miers and School Snobbery

Zoe Kentucky at Demagogue links to Liquid List's list of where all of the SCOTUS justices went to college and law school compared to Harriet Miers, with the US News school rankings in parentheses:

Roberts: Harvard (1), Harvard (2)
Stevens: University of Chicago (15), Northwestern (10)
O’Connor: Stanford (5), Stanford (3)
Scalia: Georgetown (23), Harvard (2)
Kennedy: Stanford (5), Harvard (2)
Souter: Harvard (1), Harvard (2)
Thomas: Holy Cross (32), Yale (1)
Ginsberg: Cornell (13), Harvard (2)
Breyer: Stanford (5), Harvard (2)

And from nominee Miers's bio, the comparison: Southern Methodist University (71), Southern Methodist University (52)

Why does school snobbery matter here? Ann Coulter had an interesting explanation as to why exposure to high-level liberal academia is important for a conservative Court nominee:

Third and finally, some jobs are so dirty, you can only send in someone who has the finely honed hatred of liberals acquired at elite universities to do them. The devil is an abstraction for normal, decent Americans living in the red states. By contrast, at the top universities, you come face to face with the devil every day, and you learn all his little tropes and tricks.

Conservatives from elite schools have already been subjected to liberal blandishments and haven't blinked. These are right-wingers who have fought off the best and the brightest the blue states have to offer. The New York Times isn't going to mau-mau them – as it does intellectual lightweights like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee – by dangling fawning profiles before them. They aren't waiting for a pat on the head from Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse. To paraphrase Archie Bunker, when you find a conservative from an elite law school, you've really got something.

I was surprised to see this piece of seemingly-pertinent analysis from Coulter, who generally sticks to the insults (she does harp on Miers being "the first woman commissioner of the Texas Lottery").

The subject matter of this post gives me an excuse to link Malcolm Gladwell on elite university admissions as brand management. It's worth a read.

Finally, I enjoyed seeing Joel Achenbach making fun of George Will's column:

Early Afternoon Update from the Java House Bureau: Just read the George Will column, which is a marvel, his outrage inspiring an efflorescence of volubility (EOV) that never stumbles into loquaciousness or the related evil known as prolixity.

Here's a key paragraph: "It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends."

See, too much book-learnin' can be a bad thing if it goes to your head. Interesting the Post employs a blogger who mocks the paper's columnists on its own web site. Joel is pretty funny on TimesSelect today too, check him out.