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March 18, 2005

Among the most distressing things that come from Washington D.C., aside from taxes, regulations and budgets, are the words of politicians in their full partisan mode of operation. One of the most recent contributions to the national stress level comes from California senator Barbara Boxer (D), who has come flat out against the U.S. Constitution in seeking to use the U.S. Senate's parliamentary rules to obstruct the final up-or-down votes for the President's judicial nominations with which the Democratic Party disagrees:

Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.
HT: Radioblogger, who also has the full audio transcript of Senator Boxer's remarks.

While it might be fun to suggest that the same requirement to attain 60% of a vote in order to assume any important office in the nation, say for a seat in the U.S. Senate, I'm afraid that the authors of the Constitution placed more faith in simple majorities for the day-to-day operations of the government than our current day senators do from the Democratic Party. But then again, it's not like they didn't present options for future generations that would be constitutional, of which Senator Boxer and her cohorts could take advantage.

What do I mean? Having actually read the U.S. Constitution, I was able to identify at least two means by which today's Democratic Party senators could make their wishes come true:

  1. They could change the Constitution through the amendment process to make it do exactly what they propose.
  2. They could seek to impeach the judges they don't like.

Of course, the first method would mean that the sponsors of such an amendment would need to convince two-thirds of the members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to go with their super majority scheme (see, the Constitution's authors *could* have made judicial appointments require a super majority if they really wanted to!). They would then need to get three-fourths of the state legislatures to ratify the new amendment.

The second option would be somewhat easier, in that they would just need to get a simple majority in the House of Representatives to impeach a judge they didn't like, then they could get a simple majority in the Senate in the judge's impeachment trial to remove the offending judge from power.

Of course, both these constitutional methods would take more than today's Democratic Party senators seem to have to offer: real work and real majorities. The filibuster approach being advocated by the Democratic senators is simply the lazy way to achieve their desired end result of blocking a simple majority vote for or against the President's judicial nominees. The shame for them, as Senator Boxer has acknowledged, is that a super majority vote is not required by the Constitution.

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