Re-read Alexander Hamilton on “Advice & Consent”


Via Julian Sanchez, I was directed both to Randy Barnett’s interesting anti-Miers piece today in the Wall Street Journal and to Federalist Papers No. 76.
I think Hamilton, Barnett, and Sanchez stake out a very different kind of opposition to Miers than the fundamentalist right. I think that they have a point, though I personally enjoy watching the White House run roughshod over its own right-wing, fundamentalist base.
It will be interesting to hear to what degree Miers holds sacred the delicate but vital system of checks and balances that make this nation a democracy and which the Bush administration has spent so much political capital trying to undermine.
All that said, there could have been far worse choices for the Supreme Court — so I am of mixed views on Miers.
Nonetheless, I think that it should become standard practice for ALL committees of the United States Senate tasked with considering the credentials of an Executive Branch political nominee to read the following short passage ALOUD at the opening of a confirmation hearing:

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers, “The Appointing Power of the President,” No. 76
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. . . . He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

More later.
— Steve Clemons