Obama voted against Chief Justice Roberts' (one of the most respected legal minds of his generation) confirmation with some mincing and hand-wringing about justices needing to involve themselves personally and on an emotional level in the cases before them, and that their decisions be guided by their sense of empathy.
That sounds like ok advice for a mother in determining an appropriate response to a wayward kid, but not for someone whose sworn office it is to simply interpret the Constitution. Where is the rule of law in this "judicial" philosophy?
When I came across this from Ramesh Ponnuru today, I could not resist reposting it here. (And if you are not reading the corner, you should be.)
In 2007 then-presidential candidate Barack Obama explained how he would pick federal judges: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criterion by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."
Note that the "empathy" Obama has in mind does not extend to black inner-city schoolkids who would like options beyond their failing schools . . . or small-business owners, or homeowners, all of whom have interests in Supreme Court litigation. Or, needless to say, unborn children: Obama made his remark at a Planned Parenthood event.
When President Obama says that he wants judges to have "empathy," what he means is that he wants judges who are political liberals—and who allow their politics to influence their judicial decisions. Isn't that what his quote really demonstrates?
Also, I would just like to say that I love George Will again (I was dismayed by how critical he was of Bush and McCain--wasn't the liberal press already on top of that?) and came across this oldie but goodie from him ("goodie" is hyperlinked to the article, which you should read!). I love that he even gets to the subject of how one-sided the "compassion" in this "liberal compassion" theory is.
Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern, had this response to Obama's judicial philosophy:
On this view, plaintiffs should usually win against defendants in civil cases; criminals in cases against the police; consumers, employees and stockholders in suits brought against corporations; and citizens in suits brought against the government. Empathy, not justice, ought to be the mission of the federal courts, and the redistribution of wealth should be their mantra.
In a Sept. 6, 2001, interview with Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ-FM, Mr. Obama noted that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren "never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society," and "to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical."
Every new federal judge has been required by federal law to take an oath of office in which he swears that he will "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich." Mr. Obama's emphasis on empathy in essence requires the appointment of judges committed in advance to violating this oath. To the traditional view of justice as a blindfolded person weighing legal claims fairly on a scale, he wants to tear the blindfold off, so the judge can rule for the party he empathizes with most.
And with the Left's success in blocking Bush's appointments to the vacancies in the federal district and appellate courts, Obama will have ample grounds in which to plant judges who will decide cases on the basis of their political empathies rather than on what the law actually says.
I know so many, many people who went from supporting Mitt Romney to voting for Obama, a(n) (il)logic I cannot fathom. But I would be very interested in hearing someone out there defend our President on all of this.