Monday, May 04, 2009

What does empathy have to do with the Supreme Court?

I'm not that upset about Justice Souter retiring - it doesn't change the Supreme Court, just replacing one liberal for another. But I do want to talk about the ridiculousness of what Obama says he is looking for in a justice.

During the campaign, he said:
"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'll be selecting my judges."

Well, first of all, all the justices are old, so they can all understand that. Justice Clarence Thomas KNOWS what it's like to be poor and African-American - but that doesn't count to Obama, it has to be a liberal without first hand experience who feels enough guilt to empathize with the perceived weaker side and rule in their favor no matter the circumstances. To him, empathy is more important than truth, heart over head.

Speaking of Justice Thomas, Obama has pretty much called him stupid:
"I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the constitution. I would not have nominated Justice Scalia though I don't think there is any doubt about his intellectual brilliance. Because he and I just disagree."

(Of course it's only racist to question the intellect and qualifications of a black person if they're liberal, black conservatives are fair game for the worst racial taunts imaginable.)

When officially announcing the retirement of Souter, Obama again spoke of empathy:
I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.

Empathy has nothing to do with justice. You can empathize with someone all day long but they could still be wrong. Judges are supposed to be dispassionate and objective; empathy is all about emotions and subjectivity. I don't believe Obama in his second sentence where he pays lip service to the rule of law and constitutional traditions - his view of those are far different from the rest of the country.

I think the last sentence is telling; he seems to be saying, "I respect the constitutional values this country was founded on, but they need to be updated and I need someone to think of creative ways to do this." One example of a potential Obama update on our constitutional values would be to say, "the 2nd Amendment was great in the 17th century when people hunted for food or needed protection on the frontier, but today guns kill too many people and we need to control them."

Another Obama criteria is that the justice has to be as militantly pro-abortion as he is. I don't need to get into this except to say, maybe more empathy wouldn't be so bad:


FlimFlam said...

Alexa, you're right! (I can't believe I'm typing this.) Empathy has as much to do with justice as infatuation has to do with love.

It's the latter part of your post that makes it difficult for me take you seriously. Obama's not pro-abortion. You're saying it wrong. Nobody is pro-abortion. Nobody wants to kill all babies. He's pro-choice; he believes, like half of the country, in freedom, meaning a woman's right to choose. Sure, it's just semantics but you're tittering on dangerous ground. It's hyperbole like that starts vicious rumors. Tell it like it is and people will be more inclined to discuss with you. Right now you're eating a chocolate ice cream cone and telling me its strawberry.

Alexa said...

FlimFlam, are you bipolar? Are you going to reveal yourself or keep being a coward?

"Nobody wants to kill all babies." That's (hopefully) correct, but some people want to kill some babies. Follow the link on Obama and abortion and you will see he is so militantly pro-abortion, he favors allowing doctors to commit infanticide.

Dr. John Maszka said...

Whoever President Obama picks, it should be someone who understands the gravity of the appointment.

I'm conducting research on how American foreign policy affects popular support for terrorism. This research project (RP) involves a worldwide survey to measure popular support for terrorism. It is inspired by the overall abuse of power pursued by the George W. Bush administration precisely at a time of ever-increasing demand for international cooperation and diplomacy. This RP maintains that the Bush administration’s foreign policies of unilateralism, preemption, and military hegemony (commonly referred to as the Bush Doctrine) represent a radical break from traditional American foreign policy. It further asserts a correlation between popular support for terrorism and a strong dissatisfaction with the status quo as upheld by the global hegemonic power.
Even though the Bush administration is no longer in office, this correlation is still relevant today as, without a clearly articulated Obama doctrine as of yet, we have no indication that American foreign policy will change course anytime soon. More broadly, a correlation between oppressive American foreign policy in general and popular support for terrorism would be of great interest to international relations (IR) scholars of all theoretical backgrounds— as America is the global hegemon. And for this reason, American foreign policy has a tremendous impact on the rest of the world. It can be used to secure peace and prosperity in the world (and along with it American credibility and legitimacy), or it can give rise to anti-American coalitions, create inefficiency through a loss of international cooperation, and diminish what legitimacy America may still enjoy as the leader of the international community.
During the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, we witnessed the latter at unprecedented levels. With a new administration in the Oval Office, research of this nature can prove invaluable in championing a more benevolent and multilateral American foreign policy in the future. Finally, measuring popular support for terrorism will afford us the ability to construct a model that demonstrates the demographic composition of a society supportive of terrorism versus one that is not. This model, in turn, should provide a method of measuring and predicting 1) the potential for terrorism in any given society, 2) the direction that acts of terrorism tend to be moving in (e.g. westward, eastward, or remaining static), and 3) broad trends in the support for terrorism, such as whether popular support is increasing among moderates, Westerners, and so forth. The survey can be accessed at

Please take a moment and fill out the survey. The long-term goal of this project is to facilitate a more diplomatic American foreign policy in the years ahead.

Thank you!

John Maszka

Chuck said...

I would think empathy is the last thing you want in a SCOTUS judge. You want someone who looks at the facts and makes judgements based on law, not feelings.

As far as this whole "pro-choice" bit, it's a bedtime story for the left to make them sleep better at night. The "choice" causes a baby it's life.

Matthew Mulligan said...

As the constitution is a living and breathing document - according to the Leader - the thing can simply be bent to serve one's political interest. Like in our schools where feelings have become more important than facts,

A cute piece on what Obama is 'really' looking for in a nominee can be found at:

Jameson Graber said...

"Nobody wants to kill all babies." Does anyone seriously believe this is what we mean by "pro-abortion"? Who's really being disingenuous here?

Nice post, Alexa.

FlimFlam said...

All that pig Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and all the retards at Fox News were talking about yesterday was Obama's empathy comment. None of you people have your own free will and the ability to form independent thought. Your a lost heard that just follows the leader.

When was the last time you had your own original thought?

*Alexa shrugs.

Former Liberal Rants said...

John Maska-
"it should be someone who understands the gravity of the appointment"

Everyone knows the "gravity" of such a position and that is not the argument. The point is, nobody thinks he will appoint someone who does not legislate from the bench while leaning to far left. Knowing the “gravity” and actually caring to interpret the law as written are separate things.

“overall abuse of power pursued by the George W. Bush administration precisely at a time of ever-increasing demand for international cooperation and diplomacy”

Overall abuse may be the mindset of a left leaning person like yourself, but for many of us, the act of unilateralism was justified. How many condemnations by the UN would have been enough John? Exactly how many useless pieces of paper could we have given to Saddam for use on his golden toilet? Seriously, the rest of the world will do nothing but idly sit by and pass resolutions, while a leader gives 25k to the families of suicide bombers. Oh, and I still contend that the WMD’s are buried in the desert like the Russian jets were, or they were moved to Syria.

“American foreign policy has a tremendous impact on the rest of the world. It can be used to secure peace and prosperity in the world (and along with it American credibility and legitimacy), or it can give rise to anti-American coalitions’

What good is it to have a pro-American coalition of cowardly nations? Don’t terrorist groups seek to kill us whether we are being friendly or not? Here is a news flash John, people like unilateralism because we led the fight and didn’t ask Europe or anyone else for permission. How much of a help is a European country with 2,000 troops in enemy territory, when what we need is full involvement? Europe does not have the stomach to do what must be done.

Your approach ties us in with European progressives/liberal/social democrats that actually think talking to people like Hamas and Hezbollah will have an effect on their policy toward us. In a terrorists way of thinking, it ok to lie to accomplish the goals of stalling and deception. The European way gives more time to brainwash children, recruit the susceptible, and instill the perverted interpretation of Islam preached in some Mosques.

Only carrying the big stick of power, and explaining our values through education will ever stop this threat to our existence.

I won’t be taking your survey.

Dan said...

Hi Alexa,

Loved your point about Barry O brushing aside Thomas' qualifications for emphasizing with the poor. Typical liberal: HYPOCRITE!I plan on reading more of your entries.

-- Uncle Dan --