Since George W. Bush first became president, Democratic senators have used the filibuster 10 times to block the confirmation of nominees for federal court judgeships. They chose their targets cautiously -- more than 200 other nominees were confirmed, some of them men and women whose records were extremely conservative. . .New York Times, March 1, 2009:
The Senate, of all places, should be sensitive to the fact that this large and diverse country has never believed in government by an unrestrained majority rule. Its composition is a repudiation of the very idea that the largest number of votes always wins out. . .
While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it's most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. Once confirmed, judges can serve for life and will remain on the bench long after Mr. Bush leaves the White House. And there are few responsibilities given to the executive and the legislature that are more important than choosing the members of the third co-equal branch of government. The Senate has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the process.
[T]he use of the filibuster as an everyday tool of legislation stands the idea of democratic government on its head. Instead of majority rule in the Senate, the tyranny of the minority prevails.New York Times, January 2, 2011:
In the last two Congressional terms, Republicans have brought 275 filibusters that Democrats have been forced to try to break. [NOfP note: wrong--the Times and others confuse cloture with filibuster.] That is by far the highest number in Congressional history, and more than twice the amount in the previous two terms.New York Times, July 4, 2011:
These filibusters are the reason there was no budget passed this year, and why as many as 125 nominees to executive branch positions and 48 judicial nominations were never brought to a vote. They have produced public policy that we strongly opposed, most recently preserving the tax cuts for the rich, but even bipartisan measures like the food safety bill are routinely filibustered and delayed.
[In] the last few years in the United States Senate, . . . virtually every measure is filibustered.Conclusion: As Don Surber says:
Any senator can object to a bill, and often kill it, by triggering the 60-vote threshold. Bills that pass are often watered down or seriously compromised to win the last few votes, long after a majority has consented. As noted recently by Matthew Yglesias, a blogger with the Center for American Progress, the supermajority rule has blocked pricing limits on carbon use and the Dream Act for young immigrants, limited the 2009 stimulus bill, and diluted the reform of health care and the financial system -- just since the beginning of the Obama administration.
[T]here have been many talented and qualified presidential nominees whose appointments have never even been considered because one senator blocked them. . .
Supermajority requirements allow small groups of people to exert undue influence.
The New York Times position on filibusters is easily understood. When Republicans are in power, filibusters are good. When Democrats are in power, filibusters are evil.Bonus: compare the supposedly non-partisan Common Cause in 2005 (when Republicans had a majority), with 2010 and 2011.
(via Best of the Web, Volokh Conspiracy, Ed Whelan, Ed Morrissey, Hugh Hewett, powwow)