“The process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity,” Obama told reporters.
“I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation,” said Obama.
“I view that quality of empathy…as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes,” he said.
The president walked in on the White House spokesman’s daily brief to reporters and the cable news networks today to make those remarks….
Frankly, I was always taught that Justice was blind and it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, big or small, black, brown, white or whatever, Justice was based in law and was fair. Empathy is for the school nurse. Kindergarten.
Now we know where the “torture” document release comes from. Empathy.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News Channel called the president’s interpretation of judges as “deeply corrupting and wrong.”
“Judges interpret law. The place for making law and empathy is in the congress,” he said.
Obama’s “empathy” sounds a lot like Pelosi calling immigration officers enforcing the law as “un-American”….
Empathy and applying the law….
Karl Rove said, “These two things are in conflict.”
“This is a singularly loopy idea,” said Ann Coulter.
From The Washington Times
“The next Supreme Court nominee must be asked whether they share the president’s decidedly activist view that judges should consider not just the law and facts, but also empathy for certain classes of people, including African-Americans, the poor, gays, and the disabled,” said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, which fights for conservative judges.
He sent a memo challenging Republican senators: “Do not roll over.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Republicans will make sure the nominee is “thoroughly reviewed.”
“A Supreme Court nominee needs to be able to fulfill the judicial oath of applying the law without prejudice, and not decide cases based on their feelings or personal politics,” Mr. McConnell said.
Mr. Obama promised to consult with Republicans and Democrats on a nominee.
The president’s pledge to make empathy “an essential ingredient” in an eventual nominee is a stark departure from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who repeatedly said he was searching for someone who would apply the law.
As an example of how empathy matters, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said it would be a judge who would have sided with the minority in the Lilly Ledbetter case.
In that case, a 5-4 majority ruled that the law gave Ms. Ledbetter a limited window to sue for pay discrimination, and she had waited too long. Justice Souter and the court’s other three liberal-leaning justices dissented, arguing the law unfairly constricted plaintiffs.
“When one discriminates against your pay, they don’t normally give you a 120- to 180-day heads-up that you’re being paid markedly less than your male counterparts are for the duration of your activities,” Mr. Gibbs said. “So I think having a justice that understands the ramifications of what each of those means is important and something that the president believes is important.”
The White House has been preparing for a possible resignation since Mr. Obama took office, and has already made several nominations to federal appeals courts, putting him well ahead of the timeline followed by Mr. Bush and President Clinton.
Republicans, however, are reeling. The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, announced this week he was switching parties, and the panel’s other Republicans have yet to regroup and choose their leader.
Mr. Specter’s switch also puts Democrats on the verge of having 60 senators, which is the magic number required to overcome a filibuster.
But if the confirmation vote does come to a filibuster, Mr. Obama’s own record will tie his hands in criticizing his opponents.
He voted against both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., and supported Democrats’ attempt to filibuster Justice Alito.
The court’s current composition includes Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito, all seen as conservatives; Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, seen as liberals along with Justice Souter; and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is seen as a somewhat-conservative swing vote.
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