The filibuster is simply terrible. It is against the intent of the Constitution, it is anti-democratic, it destroys accountability, and it can cripple basic government. Despite its many obvious problems most Senators still remain reluctant to get rid of it.
One of the only decent arguments I’ve heard in defense of the filibuster is related to the federal bench. The argument goes that federal judges now have so much power and since they could end up serving for over half a century because of lifetime appointments, the filibuster is needed to subject them to a supermajority threshold for approval. The stakes of a confirmation fight are too high and need to be lowered.
As a result, it seems the best thing for the country would be to eliminate lifetime appointments as part of a deal to also get rid of the filibuster. It is a fair trade that both increases and reduces the power of the majority at the same time. Most importantly, both moves are smart policies.
Lifetime judicial appointments create many needless problems and the few potential benefits the system offers could be achieved through other means. Adopting a single long term or a high mandatory retirement age, like in many other countries, would be a better solution. The American people overwhelmingly support ending the practice.
I don’t expect Congress to amend the Constitution anytime soon but I think it is important to at least talk ideas on how to reform our government to make it effective. Washington has done too much pouting about how the President and Speaker can’t just reach a deal over a round of beers and had too little serious discussion about actual reforms to fix the system.
Photo by petejordan under Creative Commons license.