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March 13, 2003

What's Wrong with 60-Vote Confirmation Rules?

THe Weekly Standard fears for the Republic:

In a 55-44 vote, Democrats last week defeated a Republican attempt to break their unprecedented partisan filibuster of Estrada's nomination, opening the way for the simple-majority standard for Senate confirmation of judicial nominees to be replaced with a super-majority requirement. The Republic isn't there yet. But it's close.
First, between "blue slips" and other games played in the past, majority vote was rarely the simple requirement for judge confirmation.

And while I am a strong proponent of majority rule on legislation-- and would love to see the filibuster eliminated against proposed laws -- judge confirmations merit super-majority agreement more than any other decision by the Senate.

Why? Because it can't be reversed if the Senate makes a mistake. When Congress passes bad legislation, they can always pass another law to correct the problem. But there is no such simple option with judges, except for impeachment which requires a two-thirds vote and a process that is far harsher on their object than a touch confirmation process.

As well, judges are a third branch of government with life tenure and it's not unreasonable for both parties to always have a say on their confirmation, since they will outlast any particular parties tenure in the White House or Senate leadership.

Lastly, the likely result of such mutually assurred destruction of nominees is the appointment of what all sides claim to want, judicially restrained judges who are unlikely to overrule laws near and dear to either side. Abortion will remain a political football, but on most issues judges will likely get the most mileage in saying, it's not my job to second-guess you Senators, except on the broad consensus of individual rights such as free speech.

So onward to 60-vote confirmation requirements for judges!

Posted by Nathan at March 13, 2003 08:57 AM

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