For many observers, the conservative revolt over the Miers nomination to the Supreme Court was out of the blue. But for those paying attention, it is not hard to explain at all. For a number of years, movement conservatives have been holding their noses (and largely keeping quiet) over lots of issues — the appalling growth of government, immigration issues, prodigality in spending, etc. and they have been willing to do so because of the importance of the upcoming Supreme Court nominations.
I did not vote for George W. either time around, and I did not do so largely because I had become convinced that when we finally came down to it, the Republicans would flake when it came to the high court. But I told some friends that I would be willing to rethink my position if the president, if and when he had opportunity, nominated a crawl-over-broken-glass pro-lifer to the Supreme Court. But not only would he have to nominate him, he would have to fight for him. The last time Roe was reviewed (and upheld), seven out of the nine justices were Republican appointments.
But for a time things looked like they might change, which is why so many conservatives continued to stay with the president. The possibility of change at the Supreme Court was one of the (very) few remaining arguments that conservatives had for staying the course. The president was consistently appointing judges at the appellate level who were in line with his commitment, and so okay, it might happen. When Roberts was nominated, he was a stealth candidate, but his credentials and his judicial philosophy were sound enough to mollify conservatives (even though it is still possible that Roberts would vote to uphold Roe). But then when the trickier-than-tricky nomination of Miers came along, her lack of credentials coupled with a raw “trust me” on her judicial philosophy precipitated the revolt. For conservatives, when it comes to the Court, the whole “trust me” thing looks like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Not anticipating this revolt was a serious miscalculation. Karl Rove must be distracted.