I agree with The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen that the end of the filibuster for non-Supreme Court presidential appointees is a very good thing. But his main reason for believing this is astonishingly naive:
... Knowing they can no longer hold up nominees for no good reason on the Senate floor, Judiciary Committee Republicans instead will be forced to seek substantive ways to justify a decision to vote "no" on Obama nominees. They will ask tougher questions of the nominees and require those nominees to provide more candid and complete answers. They will complain if and when candidates fail to do so. Republicans, in other words, will seek to elicit information about these candidates during hearings that can be used against those candidates when their nominations come up for a vote. And when Democrats become the minority again in the Senate they, too, will employ these tactics.Seriously? Cohen actually believes that Republicans are now going to feel they need to ask substantive questions before expressing opposition to Obama appointees? Cohen thinks they'll be reluctant just to oppose Obama's appointees reflexively, giving no more of a reason than the fact that they're Obama picks, or portraying some inch-to-the-left-of-dead-center aspect of each appointee's C.V. as a sign of radical leftism run amok?
This is not remotely a bad thing. Judicial nominees should be evaluated more in public on the merits of their work and the arcs of their careers....
So the next judicial appointees to come before the Judiciary Committee are far more likely to face far more hostile questions than their immediate predecessors did....
More candor aimed at the American people? More insight into life-tenured judges? Political battles over the merits of people's careers rather than over the size of our courts? If that's the end result here, there is reason to applaud today's historic change, no matter what side of the aisle you call home.
Republican officeholders never feel they need to justify their permanent campaign to deny Democratic presidents the right to govern. Opposition to Democratic presidents is simply categorical. The voters who elect these Republicans -- even the swing voters -- don't seem to have a problem with this, probably because every act of specifically GOP obstructionism is presented by the mainstream press as part of a general D.C. dysfunction that's the fault of both parties equally.
Nothing about this is going to change now. Congressional hearings are not going to become more high-minded. Republicans will continue to declare Democrats and Democratic nominees unacceptable, and will continue to suffer no consequences for this.