Sessions' Sounds of Silence
Sessions met with Miers in the days after her nominations and gave her a fairly positive review ("My conversations with Harriet Miers indicate that she is a first-rate lawyer and a fine person"). But that was before the conservative opposition to Miers really coalesced and the before the Bush administration and Miers herself hurt their own cause with a series of missteps.
But since his initial meeting with Miers, I haven't heard a peep from Sessions. Now from most senators that wouldn't necessarily warrant attention. But not only is Jeff Sessions on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but his career has seen frequent criticisims "activist judges" and a focus on the administration of a "strict constructionist" judicial system.
And yet along comes the most controversial nomination of Session's senatorial career and he seems content to just stay on the sidelines. If Sandra Day O'Connor's slot is filled with a conservative, then that has the potential to dramatically shift the court to the right. A prospect which should have Sessions excited. Yet instead of being on the front lines either questioning or touting Miers' right-wing bonafides, Sessions has let fellow hard-liners like Sam Brownback (R-KS) and even mushy moderate Arlen Specter (R-PA) take the lead on the Miers nomination.
It is possible that I have just missed Sessions' reactions to Miers. Or that he is taking the defensible position that he'll wait until the confirmation hearings to decide. But Sessions has had at least a single one-on-one meeting with her, in which he presumably asked her questions he felt important. And the way the nomination is heading, I'll be very surprised if there are confirmation hearings so Sessions might not ever have to go on the record with his thoughts about Miers.
Sessions is well within his right to be low-key on this nomination, or anything else. But given his past pronouncements and his focus on the courts, I expected him to lead on the Miers nominations instead of waiting to see how the winds are shifting. Maybe Sessions is afraid an outspoken critique would burn bridges in the administration or he doesn't want to antagonize the few conservative groups who have supported Miers.
Whatever the reason for his silence Jeff Sessions is missing a chance to put himself forward as one of the more vigorous leaders of the strict-constructionist perspective and of the conservative movement as a whole.