In reviewing federal appellate court Judge Richard Posner's newest book on the federal judiciary this week, I took special note of his reminiscence of his appointment almost four decades ago. His mother had been a Communist, and then-Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) asked Posner if he was too. Posner said he wasn't, so Thurmond never asked him the question at the confirmation hearings, accepting the young appointee’s assurance. Posner was provided the questions he'd be asked before the hearing, which he sailed through.
Another time, for sure, and as Posner concluded, we get fewer duds now than in those days, and fewer stars. In fact, we get fewer judges, at a time when they are needed to handle the business of the federal courts.
This brings me to the current state of affairs, where a minority of senators on partisan lines is frustrating President Obama’s appointments, this time four candidates with fine judicial credentials.
Modest reforms like requiring the filibusterer to be present and talking, proposed by the Alliance For Justice, or more fundamental reforms like ending the endless filibuster so democracy can work, are now called for.
It really is time for the U.S. Senate to alter its undemocratic filibuster and cloture practices and end the constant frustration of the president’s constitutional right to make appointments. I believe the democratic process should require an up-or-down majority vote after reasonable period of real debate, letting the political chips — Democratic or Republican — fall where they may.