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Quote of the Day - The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention. - Kevin Kelly
Doting On Supreme Court Nominations At The Expense Of Others
Sometimes the weight of expectations put on the judicial system seems like more than we could reasonably ask it to handle. But handle it, it does, thanks to those serving in the trenches. Think, for a moment, just about today's headlines:
Three Sue California Over Transplants - Some thirty people have died waiting for transplants, and they claim they weren't told that the hospital hasn't had a liver to transplant in over two years. While the claim is based on an alleged lack of information, it's the issue of weighing lives.
Milosevec Requests Health-related Delay In War Crimes Trial - It's not the continuance, but the consequences of sitting in judgment over war crimes.
Statement On Denial of Habeas Rights For Guantanamo Detainees - The ABA felt it was so important that my inbox was greeted with one more piece of email, asking me to contact my senators to preserve the sense of justice that we've been fighting for since the American Revolution.
Judge Halts Logging Project In Giant Sequoia National Monument - The headline pretty much begs the question, but the Forest Service claims it was going to allow the forest to be thinned to prevent fires from damaging the giant Sequoia trees. Environmentalists claim logging would injure wildlife.
Sealing Divorce Records For The Sake Of Corporations - Should we seal divorce records of corporate executives that may include confidential information about corporations, or expose them to public scrutiny?
In just skimming five random items from the legal news today, there are issues that involve new biology, genocide, human rights, the environment and privacy rights, and that's not all of today's news, and certainly doesn't address a host of other hot news about the Supreme Court, abortion rights and a slew of topics that are covered regularly in this blawg and elsewhere.
As my Dad used to say, these are life-changing events, especially for the people involved. What requirements do we place on those who handle them? We send someone to law school, have them practice law for awhile, and then appoint them to the bench. We scrutinize the appointment briefly, but aren't we doing it backwards?
Justice Alito is getting a lot of attention these days and that attention is certainly justified. He may be participating in decisions that may affect on us. But it's unlikely that most of the cases, including the four of the five noted above, will ever get to the Supreme Court. They'll be decided by state court judges that get comparatively little scrutiny and federal judges that get significantly more evaluation than a state court judge, but much less than a Supreme Court nominee. These lower court judges, however, handle the day-to-day decisions that affect more of us more often than any Supreme Court ruling could ever hope to.
When was the last time you (or someone you know) were directly affected by a Supreme Court decision?
When was the last time you (or someone you know) were directly affected by a trial court decision?
The latter is much more likely, just based on sheer numbers. I'm not questioning why we dote on Supreme Court nominees. The question here is why isn't that level of attention, or even something passingly close to it, paid to the judges-in-waiting who affect more of us?