Staffing Up

| Sun Mar. 28, 2010 11:51 AM EDT

James Fallows outlines the stellar qualifications of Alan Bersin, nominated to head Customs and Border Protection, an agency of DHS, and then notes that Republicans refused to allow a vote on his nomination anyway. Matt Yglesias comments:

(A) This is a sign of an opposition political party gone mad. But (B) this is a poor way to organize a government. The number of political appointees in the executive branch should be reduced, the proportion of political appointees requiring congressional confirmation should be lowered, and some kind of express track to an up-or-down vote for nominees should be established. Confirming judges — lifetime members of a coequal branch of government — is one thing, but a president needs to be able to staff his administration.

Actually, I'd extend this argument to district court judges too. Just in general, it's absurd for the Senate to spend time vetting such a vast number of appointees. They should stick to cabinet level positions, heads of a few of the major agencies (Fed, SEC, EPA, etc.), ambassadors, and circuit court judges.

For what it's worth, it might also be a good idea to have set terms for judges. Say, ten years or so. Long enough to keep them independent, but not so long that every appointment has to be a pitched battle. I'm not quite sure whether this would take a constitutional amendment, though.

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