Cost of the War in Iraq
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Friday, July 22, 2005

Dems: Pick Your Battles 

The Dems would do well by not picking a fight over the nomination of Judge Roberts to the US Supreme Court. The Dems would lose the high ground as well as the confirmation battle itself. In light of the more pressing matters facing the US public, Democrats should decline to fight a battle over Roberts and focus on those other issues.

Roberts clearly has the experience and intellect to sit on the High Court. I may not agree with the positions he's taken in cases, but the man is highly qualified for the job as Supreme Court justice.
Hard questioning will just make Dems look like bullies. Republicans would love that, particularly because Roberts is well qualified for the job.

The appointment, while no doubt historic and significant, is really less significant to all Americans than Bush's lower court appointments are. Why? Because the lower courts hear a disproportionate number of cases in comparison to US Supreme Court.

In 2004, a total of 281,338 cases were filed in US federal district courts. Of those cases, approximately 27,438 were appealed to, and disposed of, by the courts of appeals. Lower court judges undoubtedly know that there is a slim chance that their decisions will be reviewed by a higher court. Thus, judges can make decisions without substantial concern they will be overturned on appeal. That gives those judges a tremendous amount of power. Judges acting firmly on the principle of judicial restraint---and there are many who do---do not abuse that awesome power. Those who pay only lip service to that principle can easily abuse their power without consequence.

In contrast to the lower federal courts, the US Supreme Court hears about 100 out of roughly 7,000-8,000 requests for review filed with the Court each year. There is no question that some of the cases on the Court's docket have major implications for all Americans. But in the big scheme of things, the action Americans should be concerned about happens at the lower court level.

Rather than fight a battle over Roberts, Democrats should focus on other more pressing issues. For example, the Bush administration's use of classified government information for partisan political purposes is horrifying. Of course I refer to the Valerie Wilson outing that has damaged our national security. The outing issue goes to the heart of the reasons the US invaded Iraq, which has caused the deaths and injuries of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. That abuse of power has far greater implications for the people of this country---not to mention the rest of humanity---than does the nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Republicans would relish a fight over Roberts for the sole purpose of diverting attention away from the Wilson outing. Democrats ought not to take the bait and remain focused on getting to the bottom of the administration's abuse of power.

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