Conservative as Him

Again on the subject of terms. George Will argues that those who advocate the benching of Harriet Miers betray the conservative cause. He writes:

>Other arguments betray a gross misunderstanding of conservatism on the part of persons masquerading as its defenders.

Sounds like we’re heading towards the bright light of conceptual analysis of “conservative”. Or so one would hope. The closest we get is this:

>In their unseemly eagerness to assure Miers’s conservative detractors that she will reach the “right” results, her advocates betray complete incomprehension of this: Thoughtful conservatives’ highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with *genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution’s meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure.* Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result. [italics added]

Genuine constitutional reasoning sounds very impressive and very desirable, but that hardly seems an adequate (non-question begging) definition of “conservative.” There are 8 justices who would all (one hopes) claim to be doing *genuine* constitutional reasoning in light of close considerations of text and structure (some of them *not* conservatives). Some do it with old editions of the dictionary, others in light of different, but equally well justified, tools of textual interpretation. More fundamentally, since such obtuse originalism constitutes the true “conservative” hermeneutics, Miers might seem to be supremely well qualified: she apparently has a mind that is so blissfully uncluttered with legal theories or constitutional concepts that she can go directly to the original meaning of the text.