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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Justice Breyer Needs Our Help

Justice Breyer discussed the difficulty of the past Supreme Court term and his unbounded faith in the justice system in an address at the ABA’s annual meeting. Despite the disappointment of being in dissent in too many cases, Justice Breyer stated that he is proud that ours is a system in which “disputes over race and other deeply emotional issues are worked out ‘in the courts, not in the streets.’” But Justice Breyer added that the public needs to take more of a stake in the judiciary:
[T]he story of the American legal system needs to be told and retold, Breyer said, because it “floats on the sea of public acceptance.” He said he worries that the busy general public does not see that it has a direct stake in the preservation of an independent judiciary, which contributes to economic stability and the protection of minorities. The message needs to be transmitted to the next generation.

Justice Breyer is right. As the last Supreme Court term made abundantly clear, judicial decisions have real impacts on regular Americans. But the majority of cases – which are just as important – are decided in the lower federal courts. Senators are currently considering right wing judicial nominees like Judge Leslie Southwick of Mississippi. They need to hear from their constituents that judges are important. They must stop confirming judges who are hostile to individual liberties, constitutional rights, and environmental protections.

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