The idea of the balance of power, which the framers of the constitution wrote into that document, amounts to either a huge mistake in governmental design or a shrewd act of political propaganda.
It sounds like a good idea to have the powers of the different branches of government balance each other. In practice, as designed, however, it simply does not work. The appointment of a Supreme Court justice provides an excellent example of the flaws in the execution of this concept.
Allegedly, the Judicial branch of government, led by the Supreme Court, plays the role of balancing the power of the executive and legislative branches. But how can that branch really act with total independence when the executive appoints judges and the legislature confirms them? We simply cannot assume political neutrality from judicial appointees.
When different parties control the other two branches of government, judicial confirmation becomes a tug-of-war to see which party can dominate the process. The political philosophies of the appointees might fall closer to the center (wherever that exists), but the process does not lend itself to neutrality.
When the same party controls both the executive and legislative branches, the appointment of judges becomes a way for that party to increase its political power. The current Supreme Court nomination amounts of such a battle for power.
Without reading a single ruling from Judge Sotomayor, you know she has a liberal bias. The president and the congress, in its current make up, could not afford politically to appoint and confirm a judge without that bias.
Does that mean that liberals win and conservatives lose? (I ignore the rest of us.)
No, it means that we all lose. We become subject to yet another fantasy of our form of government: that our country has a government of laws and not men (or women). We voters face ever increasing oppression as a result of these battles for political power.