Senator Lindsey Graham spoke today at the Greenville County Federalist Society luncheon meeting. His speech covered judicial nominations, Harriet Miers, and courts in the war on terror.
The Senator began by observing that good men and women will avoid public service in the judiciary if the current climate persists. He observed that Justice Scalia could not be confirmed today because of the bitter partisanship in the Senate. Using this as a lead in, Senator Graham defended the compromise on the filibuster issue. He described the compromise as merely an effort to promote civility and permit all sides to step back from a course that would damage the ability of the Senate to function.
On Harriet Miers, the Senator accused groups on the Right of being more unfair on this nomination than groups on the Left had been to John Roberts. Graham spoke at length on Miers' qualifications, touting her rise in the Texas Bar and leadership in her 400-person firm as evidence of ability and skill at building coalitions. He defended the President's choice of a woman as promoting diversity. He averred that if another seat opens up, President Bush should appoint a Hispanic Justice to reflect this group's growing importance in America.
Senator Graham said he had spoken with the President at length on the Miers nomination. He averred that the President took two lessons from Bush I's administration: (1) read my lips, and (2) David Souter. Senator Graham said it was important to the President to avoid the mistake of David Souter; therefore, the President picked a nominee who he knew well and who the President believes will not tarnish his legacy. Senator Graham emphasized that the President's legacy was important to him and that this was nomination to secure that legacy. He ended his discussion of the Miers nomination by urging groups on the Right to give Miers an opportunity to be heard. He also promised that although he supported Miers, he would ask her tough questions dealing with the war on terror.
Turning to the war on terror, Senator Graham admitted that Congress had abdicated its constitutional role by failing to suspend habeas corpus with regard to enemy combatants. He indicated his agreement with Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion in Hamdi on this point. The Senator promised to introduce legislation to aid the courts as they grapple with enemy combatants--individuals he described as residing in a no man's land between the criminal justice system and POW status.
Senator Graham also promised to introduce legislation to ensure that enemy combatants are properly interrogated, but not tortured. He said how we treat enemy combatants and suspected terrorists is a reflection of who we are as a people. Senator Graham expressed some concern over the current lack of guidance on these issues.