Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Framers intended no more than a Senate majority to approve judges. ~ By Clarke D. Forsythe

Breaking the Rules

[snip]

.......On June 13, 1787, it was originally proposed that judges be “appointed by the national Legislature,” and that was rejected; Madison objected and made the alternative motion that appointments be made by the Senate, and that was at first approved. Madison specifically proposed that a “supermajority” be required for judicial appointments but this was rejected. On July 18, Nathaniel Ghorum made the alternative motion “that the Judges be appointed by the Executive with the advice & consent of the 2d branch,” (following on the practice in Massachusetts at that time). Finally, on Friday, September 7, 1787, the Convention approved the final Appointments Clause, making the president primary and the Senate (alone) secondary, with a role of “advice and consent.”

Obviously, this question is something that the Framers carefully considered. The Constitution and Supreme Court decisions are quite clear that only a majority is necessary for confirmation. Neither the filibuster, nor a supermajority vote, is part of the Advice and Consent role in the U.S. Constitution. Until the past four years, the Senate never did otherwise. Changing the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster and only require a majority vote is not only constitutional but fits with more than 200 years of American tradition.