“Lady Justice is Blind, Not ‘Empathetic'” Quoted from RealClearPolitics
President Obama’s choice of a replacement for Justice David Souter, when he retires from the Supreme Court at the end of this court session, will probably reflect diversity on the court! The news media is screaming for diversity — apparently they feel that what this court needs is at least the appearance of diversity, and they (the media) will probably jump on the bandwagon and be happy with any non-white female as long as she has any kind of legal experience and can say important sounding things. No, I don’t believe that’s too much of an exaggeration, I believe that’s how shallow many media types are and how empty-headed they believe you and I are.
President Obama made it very clear that he wants a Supreme Court Justice with the qualities “of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles.” That’s lovely prose but it seems to me like a lousy way to pick a Supreme Court Justice; besides that, it’s worrisome because it speaks to the direction President Obama wants to “move” the country through its legal system. Personally, I don’t want an ultra-liberal president moving the country anywhere!
The job of a Supreme Court justice may not be simple but it is straightforward; the Supreme Court (or any court) interprets existing law and judges the facts of the case before it, based on that law. That doesn’t require diversity, it requires a sound understanding of the law. That doesn’t require empathy, in fact empathy is a judge’s or a justice’s least desirable trait; what it does require, aside from an encyclopedic knowledge of the Constitution, is a fair, logical mind and a good understanding of human nature.
We are a country of laws and while every law needs clarification and may require interpretation as to how it applies to any given set of circumstances; empathy can do little but confuse facts, cloud issues and generally ‘gum up’ the works.
No, I’m not anti-empathy, I just believe that empathy has a proper place and a proper use! As citizens, as members of our communities, and as civilized human beings we should all be empathetic when dealing with each other, when trying to understand behaviors and when resolving problems. The kind of problems you and I face daily will normally benefit from a dash of empathy but we are not judges or justices. We do not sit in judgment of complex situations and attempt to balance people’s actions or words against written law or against the U.S. Constitution, and the outcome of our everyday decisions will not have a lasting effect on this nation’s laws or on people’s lives.
When you and I go to bed at night we can rest easy if we have been compassionate, empathetic and understanding. When a judge who rules not on a fair-minded interpretation of the law but on empathy for the “underdog” lays his or her head down at night, I don’t see how they can feel anything but shame at their betrayal of the system they are sworn to defend.
Washington Post: Hispanics See Stars Aligned on High Court
Doxis/Praxis by Tad DeLay: Empathy, Judicial Activism, Obama, and Supreme Court Justices
Our Country In Change: Supreme Court Candidates for Justice David Souter