The inability of our friends on the right to muster a coherent argument against judicial filibusters astonishes me. Here's Chuck Colson:
Over two hundred years ago, a man who wrote under the name of Publius was hunched over his desk one evening. He was attempting to convince New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution. After a moment of thought, he dipped his quill into the ink and wrote the following: The President “is to nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court.”
Publius, of course, was the pen name used by three of our nation’s founders when they wrote the eighty-five newspaper essays now known as the FEDERALIST PAPERS. Among the authors was Alexander Hamilton, who wrote essay number 76, from which I just quoted. These fading words on a yellowed document reveal that what a handful of U.S. senators are doing today is a constitutional travesty.[...]
The Constitution could not be clearer. The nomination is made by the president alone. The Senate is to give its advice and consent—not demand ideological purity. Alexander Hamilton explained the intent in his essay number 76. “It is not likely,” he wrote, “that [the Senate’s] sanction would often be refused where there were not special and strong reasons for the refusal.”
Why Colson would choose to quote this passage, of all passages in Federalist 76 is really beyond my comprehension. It actually supports the Dems! Hamilton was right. The Senate's sanction has not often been refused. The Senate has confirmed 95% of Bush's nominees. In the extra 5% there are, indeed, "special and strong reasons for the refusal."
The advice and consent clause, Hamilton continued, was intended to provide a check upon a president who would, say, appoint his brother, or engage in favoritism, or reward family connections or personal benefactors—nothing more.
And why Colson would misconstrue what Hamilton says when his readers can just click the link and read it for themselves is similarly beyond me:
To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.
It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing.
There's none of Colson's "nothing more" in Hamilton; Hamilton actually provides more examples (no "unfit characters" or appointments "from a view to popularity") than Colson. It sounds from Hamilton's tone ("the possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing") as though Hamilton wants the president to propose nominees while considering the fact that they have to be confirmed by the Senate, and presumably have a reasonably universal appeal as nominees.
So our friends on the right aren't able to successfully argue about the constitutionality of filibusters; nor are they successfully able to argue from historical precedent. It's kind of sad, actually; but now you also understand why they resort to the "Democrats hate people of faith" trope. They don't have any good arguments.
Reading Federal 76, I find some other passages that seem to be relevant to today's debate. I'll leave it to your imagination how they apply. Well, mostly to your imagination:
To this reasoning it has been objected that the President, by the influence of the power of nomination, may secure the complaisance of the Senate to his views. This supposition of universal venalty in human nature is little less an error in political reasoning, than the supposition of universal rectitude. The institution of delegated power implies, that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind, which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence; and experience justifies the theory. It has been found to exist in the most corrupt periods of the most corrupt governments. The venalty of the British House of Commons has been long a topic of accusation against that body, in the country to which they belong as well as in this; and it cannot be doubted that the charge is, to a considerable extent, well founded. But it is as little to be doubted, that there is always a large proportion of the body, which consists of independent and public-spirited men, who have an influential weight in the councils of the nation.
Independent and public-spirited men. Like Rick Santorum.
Though it might therefore be allowable to suppose that
the Executive might occasionally influence some individuals in the Senate, yet the supposition, that he could in general purchase the integrity of the whole body, would be forced and improbable.
Alexander Hamilton had clearly never met Karl Rove.