President Bush yesterday called for an immediate vote on two of his most controversial judicial nominations, increasing pressure on Senate Republicans to consider a historic rule change that would make it easier for him, and future presidents, to reshape the federal bench, including the Supreme Court....The Senate wasn't designed with a filibuster either. It's true the government wasn't designed to be as efficient as possible, but it also wasn't designed to be as inefficient as possible. A balance of efficiency and inefficiency was thought best. The filibuster is an extra inefficiency the Senate chose for itself. How is it "a total disavowal of the basic framework of the system of government" to return to the degree of efficiency provided in the Constitution? You can argue that more inefficiency is a good idea and that it isn't unconstitutional for the Senate to adopt addditional inefficiencies, but don't think you can palm it off with pieties about your faithfulness to the intent of the Constitution's Framers.
The president, who initiated the conflict by renominating judges whom Democrats had blocked during his first term and demanding new votes this year, is essentially guaranteeing a showdown that is as much about the power of the presidency as Democratic obstinacy, according to numerous government scholars. The result could be a more powerful White House, a weakened Congress and the possible erosion, if not end of, the most powerful tool available to the minority party, the filibuster, the scholars said.
"This is being done to . . . help a president achieve what he wants to achieve," said former representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), now a scholar at the Aspen Institute. "It's a total disavowal of the basic framework of the system of government. It's much more efficient [for Bush], but our government was not designed to be efficient."
Similar rhetoric is deployed by proponents of the President's nominees:
Supporters of the proposed rule change say it would restore the proper balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches. They contend the Democrats' repeated filibusters of appellate court nominees are imposing a new and unfair standard that requires 60 votes, rather than 51, for any appointee the minority party finds objectionable.I suppose no one is able to think straight about whether the filibuster is a salutary brake on the power of the majority. Everyone already knows whether they would like to see the majority act efficiently or the minority have an active role checking its power. So everyone professes fealty to the Constitution and shock that the other side would betray it.
"Respect for the separation of powers has been tossed aside," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said yesterday.