In the wake of the Governor’s Council’s appallingly close 4-3 vote to approve Fernande R.V. Duffly to the SJC, featuring reasons for voting “no” that I described as ranging “from barely plausible to laughable,” I called for the Council’s abolition:
The Governor’s Council is an archaic remnant of a bygone era that no longer serves any useful purpose – particularly since the vast majority of its functions were stripped after a corruption scandal back in the 1960s or ’70s. The one thing of any significance that it does – approve judges – it does not do especially well, and that function could easily be reassigned to the state Senate. Furthermore, I’d wager that something like 99% of Massachusetts residents cannot name their Councillor. It is long past time to abolish the Council by constitutional amendment, thereby streamlining the government and saving a few bucks in the process.
Today, the Globe editorial page endorsed each of my points, and echoed my call for the Council’s abolition via constitutional amendment.
On the lame reasons for voting “no” on the Duffly nomination:
Last month, three councilors almost succeeded in blocking the Supreme Judicial Court nomination of Fernande R.V. Duffly, a long-serving and well-respected judge…. The thin 4-3 margin for Duffly said less about her than about the odd machinations on the council.
On the Council’s generally lousy work on judicial nominations and the fact that that job “could easily be reassigned to the state Senate”:
In the past, council members showed little sign of taking seriously their primary responsibility: approving gubernatorial judicial appointments…. But the results may be even worse when the council does anything more than just rubber-stamp the governor’s picks…. The final vetting of judicial nominees, who are first rigorously screened by two different panels, would be better carried out by the Legislature, as is done in many other states and at the federal level.
On the fact that the Council “is an archaic remnant of a bygone era,” most of whose “functions were stripped” decades ago:
When the council was established in 1628, it had the important role of checking the power of the royal governor. Now, the eight-member panel is an inefficient rubber-stamping operation at best, and a drama-prone sideshow at worst…. Bay State residents already voted to curb the powers of the Governor’s Council before, in 1964.
On “streamlining the government and saving a few bucks in the process”:
there’s an easy way for the Legislature to prove its commitment to cutting waste: by passing Senator Brian A. Joyce’s bill to abolish the Governor’s Council…. [T]he eight-member panel is an inefficient rubber-stamping operation at best, and a drama-prone sideshow at worst. And it costs taxpayers more than $400,000 a year.
So three cheers for the Globe’s endorsement of Senator Joyce’s bill to amend the state Constitution by abolishing the Governor’s Council. Here’s hoping that the state legislature does the right thing by advancing the bill to the next session, and then puts it on the 2014 ballot. It’s high time.