Why did the founders give the power to approve appointments just to the Senate?

For the most part, everything that happens in Congress requires both houses to approve it. Even powers specific to House of Reps like impeachment still require the Senate to vote as well.

So why does the Senate have the sole power to approve appointments (except for VP)? Was there any discussion to require both Houses to approve? Did any of the more populous states (who would have more power in the HoR) argue against giving it just to the Senate?

Don’t forget the senate was originally appointed by the state governments. It was only around 1900 that the general public started electing senators. That, plus the 6-year term, was intended to give the senators a touch of immunity from the pressures of petty politics, so more likely to make the intelligent, forward thinking decisions we see today.

The House was the will of the People. The Senate was the will of the States. So who did the writers envision as embodying the will of the States? Themselves-they essentially WERE the elected representatives of the States. So when they say the Senate, they are envisioning themselves doing that work. So, Presidential appointments? “Yes, the President gets to pick them, but we get to tell him yes or no.”

Don’t forget that the House has the sole power to initiate spending bills. At the time the Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers believed that that would be a big deal, and that approval of Presidential nominees would be a minor detail. In other words, they thought they were giving the House (i.e., the People) the greater power. Except that they turned out to be wrong on both counts.

Also, don’t forget that the Federal government was much smaller, and envisioned as handling a mostly defensive foreign policy, tariffs, and inter-state conflicts. They envisioned a government that basically kept the states from getting invaded or overly pushed around by much larger European powers and let the states get up to whatever they wanted. They didn’t forsee a government that manages the most powerful military in the world with major outposts and commitments across the globe, that hosts the premier international body (the UN), that oversees state courts and police, and that handles large amounts of domestic policy (education, energy, FDA, FAA, etc.). With the much larger federal government today, spending decisions tend to get buried in giant bills behind layers of compromise, so it’s not as easy to control things through spending directly, and if a spending bill stands any chance of getting passed it will have enough house supporters to initiate it in the first place. And presidential appointees control a much broader array of powers, while presidential authority is much greater than at that time too.

The checks and balances they envisioned were for something a bit more solid than the articles of confederation that still managed These United States, it just wasn’t anywhere near the width and depth that we are used to today - and by today I mean ‘in the 20th century and later’, not something like the past few decades.

The Constitution requires the “advice and consent of the Senate” for two things–to make treaties and to make presidential appointments (both judicial and executive).

The advice and consent clauses, drafted by the Brearley Committee on “Unfinished Parts”, came before the Constitutional Convention on September 7, 1787. The issue of House concurrence was raised and debated with respect to treaty making, which is more legislative in character, but was rejected by ten states to one.

After this rebuff, nobody raised the issue again with respect to appointments. The notion of a small body to confirm appointments was familiar to the Framers, because Massachusetts and New York required concurrence with gubernatorial appointments by a small “Executive Council”. (Roughly equivalent to a modern state Cabinet, but independently chosen or elected.) Delegates George Mason and James Wilson even suggested such a council for appointments, but the matter was not brought to a vote and the proposal for appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate passed by voice vote. The Senate itself would serve as an “Executive Council”.

James Madison expanded on the appointment power in the Federalist Papers:

The Convention, of course, chose the third option.

The practical effect was to empower the slave states. The effect today is to give the 600,000 people who live in Wyoming, roughly the population of San Francisco, the same power in the Senate as the 40 million who live in California. Its amazing there is not more stink raised over this state of affairs.

That’s not actually true. If you look at the First House of Representatives which was apportioned by population, 29 of the 59 seats were held by slave states (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia) roughly half. In the Senate, they held 10 of 26, so far less than half. The Senate ‘gainers’ in the first Congress were Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island. Georgia was the only southern state to benefit from the Senate. The South as a whole actually opposed non-proportional representation. They had much larger land claims and thought that their population was going to explode in the coming years. The non-proportional faction was led largely by Delaware for obvious reasons, but also supported heavily by New York who was a large state but whose delegates wanted more autonomy for the states and feared larger states inflicting their will on smaller ones.

There’s not more stink raised because the United States is a conglomeration of independent states who have chosen to band together in order to make a more powerful bloc, but they are still independent. The US is much more like the EU than it is like France. When you look at it that way, you can see why things are how they are. Delaware in the beginning actually threatened to ally with unnamed foreign powers against the other states if proportional representation was used in the Senate. They were willing to Brexit the whole deal. Over time, we have come to accept that the Federal Government is the overriding government, but that wasn’t true in the beginning, it has just accumulated those powers over time (which is one of the fears that the UK has about the EU) Delaware was Andorra and it didn’t want Pennsylvania and Virginia completely dominating it anymore than Andorra wants to be completely dominated by Spain and France. They were independent states giving up a portion of their sovereignty, but wanted to ensure that their interests were still heard. That’s why we had a Connecticut Compromise and why it’s still valid today.

There was a time when states were considered more separate, but we now tend to view the United States itself as our country, not our individual state. There are still some divisions (Google the 11 nations of the United States), but we don’t really divide by state anymore. I don’t think of a Missourian as a foreigner. I have more in common with Southern Missourians than I do Little Rockers.

There is some wisdom in the Connecticut Compromise still (though it would be better if the House of Representatives were more reflective of the popular vote). But that compromise does not affect Court nominations or treaties, where only the wishes of the individual states matter.

One of the big balancing acts with governments is that you need institutions that resist change to maintain order and stability, but you need to be able to embrace change as the needs of the country change.

In my opinion, this is one place where they got the balance wrong, likely because they didn’t anticipate how important the judiciary would be.

The main issue is that the Senate has never been quite exactly what they Founders intended, because it got infected by “party” the same as everything else. It was intended that it would be a bloc of older, wiser heads who would figure out the sensible things to do (as opposed to the populist rabble of the House). The original Senate had much of that character, and even as late as the Civil War, there were Senators who, despite party affiliation, would attempt to engineer solutions based upon a wiser, long-term outlook. But for the most part, by 1800, the Senate was already degenerating into a legislative body that only differed from the House by the age of its inhabitants.

The change to popularly selected Senators sealed the deal. I find it quite amazing that the concept of the Senate as still being the more contemplative body lasted for almost 100 years after that change.

Is this why when the XXV Amendment was proposed, the VP took office upon confirmation by both Houses, not just the Senate?

I certainly recall opinions like this being expressed.

I think a large portion of people still actually do divide themselves by State, and think of themselves as citizens of a State and of the United States. I don’t deny that the degree to which this is done, is much reduced from in the past. But I think liberals/progressives in particular overstate the case that this isn’t done at all anymore. I think there’s good evidence liberals tend to move more, tend to live in highly urbanized cities more, and thus feel “more removed” from the State they live in and more associated with their urban community. So for them State government is more an abstraction, they think of themselves as Seattlites, San Franciscans, New Yorkers + Americans. But lots of conservative rural or suburban people in many States still have a strong case of State-identity. You see it quite a bit in some places I’m familiar with: Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia, the southern/rural parts of Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana…i.e. a lot of red states that often liberals are quick to discount as even existing when making proclamations about all Americans.

Eh, the Senate is still genuinely more deliberative because it has rules of procedure that are more deliberative. These aren’t set in stone, but they are important. The Senate by practice has typically allowed Senators almost unlimited time to talk about stuff on the floor. The practice of filibustering evolved from this norm, and while we now have procedural blocks against filibuster for a small percentage of the Senate’s business, for most things the Senate debates the Senators can still talk ad nauseum about an issue.

If you ever watch House proceedings on C-SPAN you’ll note they very carefully apportion and monitor time to each congressman and tightly control how long they get to speak, there’s no general concept of being able to speak as long as you need to in order to express your ideas, you’re on a clock. That’s generally not true in the Senate.

As a West Virginian, I concur. I have very little doubt that if there were some sort of secession event the majority of West Virginians would choose state over country. Montani Semper Liberi!

I think that’s somewhat true as an ‘organic’ cultural thing but it also has a pragmatic political aspect, or at least the causality runs both ways. For a long time the left has tended to view the federal govt and federal courts in particular as the best means of promoting their views so natural to seek more federal power and make the states more into just administrative subdivisions. The right has tended to view state govts, and the electorates in smaller states more than bigger ones as things have aligned in recent decades, as more friendly to their ideas and so favor retaining as much of the old power of the states as possible. That’s changing perhaps now with the federal courts, but that’s in part because of state power (the GOP’s ability to hold majorities in the equal by state Senate and Trump’s win in the hybrid popular/state-equal Electoral College w/o popular plurality).

But in general, not strictly (some small states are very liberal and their politicians in favor of further downgrading state power, at least ones elected to federal office) it’s what the Founders envisioned, though a lot of other things like two dominant political parties, ‘assault rifles’ and so forth arguably are not. Their very specific idea was that the state electorate RI, NH etc. could not be dictated to by the electorates in PA, NY, past a certain degree, even though the latter had the numbers. Nowadays you often see statements like how ridiculous it is how CA and NY can’t impose its will on WY and ND past a certain point. But that’s exactly why the system was set up as it was. It’s not some weird artifact of a different intention.

If nothing else, the Senate is more deliberative by virtue of having longer terms. And Senators tend to be older, if for no other reason than that it’s considered higher office, and so most senators have already been members of the House.

That’s just not the case at all. The US under the Articles of Confederation, yes, but not the US under the Constitution.
• The EU does not have the power to tax the citizens of the EU directly; neither did the US under the Articles of Confederation. Both are/were dependent on the member states to provide financing. The federal government under the Constitution does have the power of taxation directly, without needing to rely on the states for funding.

• Although it’s a bit complicated, the general rule is that EU laws don’t apply directly to citizens of EU states; they need to be implemented by the individual nations. Congress under the US Constitution has the power to impose its laws directly.

• The EU and the US under the Articles of Confederation do/did not have an executive branch which could implement its laws directly; both are/were dependent on the member states to implement laws.

• The EU and the US under the Articles of Confederation don’t/didn’t have courts at first instance that the citizen could go to. There are upper level courts in the EU, but they are mainly for disputes between the member states and the EU government, with only a limited ability for citizens to be a litigant. The US under the Articles of Confederation didn’t have courts at all. The US under the Constitution has its own judicial power, a Supreme Court, and inferior courts established by Congress.

• The EU and the US under the Articles of Confederation were both established by treaties between the states. The US Constitution was established by the citizens of each state, in conventions, not by the states themselves.

• Since the EU is established by international treaties, each member state retains the full power to leave the EU unilaterally (Article 50 of the Traty of Lisbon, 2009). A departure can be messy and there is an incentive to reach a deal to make the exit as easy as possible, but ultimately, if a member of the EU wants to leave, it has the unilateral right to do so, recognized by the other members of the EU. The proof that a state under the US Constitution has no such unilateral right is left as an exercise to the reader. :wink:

The nature of the US Constitution, as a treaty established by the states, or as a supreme law established by the people, was one of the major theoretical disputes between Madison and Patrick Henry in the Virginia ratifying convention for the US Constitution.

Madison was clear that the Constitution was not a treaty, and that’s why he had pushed hard at the Philadelphia Convention for popularly elected ratifying conventions, rather than ratifications by the states. He argued that ratification by the states would make the Constitution a treaty, which each state could ignore as it saw fit. Ratification by popular elections in each state made it a supreme law, created but the people directly, not through their state governments.

Henry agreed with that theoretical analysis, which is precisely why he opposed ratification. He argued that the state delegates at Philadelphia had no right to draft a Constitution that began “We the People…” They only had the power to bind their states, and the Constitution should be considered a treaty between the states. The attempt to make it a popular instrument, rather than a state treaty, was repugnant to him. He saw that the proposed Constitution would create “a more perfect union”, which he disagreed with.

So no, the US government under the Constitution is not closer to the EU model than to a national model like France. France is a unitary state, true, and the US is a federal state, but the federal government has powers and roles that the EU simply does not have. The federal government also has a constitutional status, which the EU, the creation of international treaties, does not have.

Oh, and forgot one of the other major differences: the US has an army, navy, airforce and other military doo-hickies, all under federal control.

The EU has none of that. European military forces are all under the control of the member states. Those member states belong to military alliances with foreign countries in their own right, not as part of the EU. That’s something which the states are barred from doing by the US Constitution.