Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On Filibusters (Sort of)

We can (and should, probably) have a lively debate on whether or not filibusters are necessary or constitutional in general, but that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the filibuster of judicial nominees. Mickey Kaus has an excellent post on it over at Slate (thanks to Mark Coffey for the link) in which he argues that while the filibuster may be disposable in most cases, the filibuster of judicial nominees is crucial for moderation of the courts. Kaus's argument is that since judicial confirmations are almost invariably politicized votes, where people tend to vote along party lines for controversial candidates, the filibuster would help moderate that process.

I'd go him a step further. Why not make the confirmation of judges a supermajority vote? It would amount to pretty much the same thing in terms of number of votes, and it would stop Presidents from both sides from even thinking about nominating judges that would just clog up the process. As it is right now, Presidents can nominate extremists for two purposes: throwing a bone to extremist bases, and daring the opposition to be cast as obstructionists by using the filibuster. But this willful, knowledgeable gumming up of the Senate proceedings is counter-productive on all sides.

So if nominees had to get 61 votes instead of 51, any attempt to nominate unconfirmable extremists would be stripped down as transparently partisan and political. And it's possible for judges to get that many votes, regardless of who's nominating them. See the post right below this one.

Call me crazy.....