Thursday, May 28, 2009

Remember when empathy wasn't bad?

Good, in the form of then-Supreme Court nominee and now Justice Samuel Alito:
Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position... When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.
Bad, in the form of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:
This wealth of experiences, personal and professional, has helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. It has helped me to understand, respect and respond to the concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me as well as to the views of my colleagues on the bench. I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.
Good, in the form of Justice Clarence Thomas, according to George Bush Sr.:
"I have followed this man's career for some time," Bush said of Thomas. "He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor."
And more, straight from Thomas:
And I believe, Senator, that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does. You know, on my current court I have occasion to look out the window that faces C Street, and there are converted buses that bring in the criminal defendants to our criminal justice system, bus load after bus load. And you look out and you say to yourself, and I say to myself almost every day, "But for the grace of God there go I."

If you don't understand how laws affect people -- which some call "empathy" -- why should you be a judge at all?

As an aside, anyone noticing how the term "empathy" has gone from being code for "liberal/activist" to code for "female"?

I have many more thoughts on the nomination of Sotomayor, to come soon.


Bruce said...

Hey! You're baiting us!

Rosie said...

How so?

GM said...

All this hoopla over Sotomayor is ridiculous.


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