“Just as [philosopher John] Rawls challenged us to think about the rules for a fair and just society as if we had no idea whether we ourselves would be born into that society rich or poor, or black or white, so too we can think about government as if ignorant about whether our preferred party would be in or out of power.”

That’s attorney/author Edward Lazarus at FindLaw, suggesting that it might be possible to agree on some golden rules that would stick regardless of which party was running things.

“I suspect that a bipartisan group of former top staffers to the Senate Judiciary Committee could agree on a fair number of basic ground rules about how the judicial confirmation process should work. Topics for potential agreement might well include such questions as: Should home state Senators have a veto over nominees for local seats on the bench? (Most probably would say yes.) Should secret holds be allowed? (Most probably would say no.) Should every nominee be entitled to a floor vote? (Most probably would say yes.) Should filibusters be allowed on this issue? (Most probably would say yes.) What kinds of information are truly relevant and necessary to evaluate a nominee? (Most would probably name the same categories of information — regarding, for example, the nominees’ present and past views and the quality of his or her analysis of legal issues.)”

Even if some such agreement were reached, any politician or handler who was determined to govern only from the base and to hell with the opposition might not honor the agreement or care about the long run. So I don’t know how realistic the idea is. Wouldn’t sensible conservatives have honored the Golden Rule, or at least had qualms about larding unilateral powers onto the Chief Executive given the possibility of a President Edwards?