President Obama has stated that he thinks one qualification for a Supreme Court judge is empathy, the ability to emotionally put yourself in someone else’s shoes. His pick for the upcoming vacancy on the bench, due to Judge Souter’s retirement, is Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Her record and statements are undergoing intense scrutiny.  One aspect generating buzz on the Web is her 2001 statement about how her gender and ethnicity, and her life experiences as a result, make her decisions more empathetic, thus more valid, than a white male judge’s.  Her words:  “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

This is an example of the judicial temperament and logic the President thinks should be interpreting the Constitution? She’s empathetic because the accident of her birth made her superior to a large part of the population, everyone who isn’t female and Hispanic?  I give them points for chutzpah, if for nothing else.

There has been a furious effort to try to excuse it.  The Trivializer-In Chief reads her mind and proclaims,

“I’m sure she would have restated it,” Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that…”I think that when she’s appearing before the Senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is,” Obama said in the broadcast interview, clearly aware of how ethnicity and gender issues are taking hold in the debate.

Shooting the messenger is another time-honored tactic to deflect attention from the issue, and it’s being employed vigorously:

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, refused on Sunday to condemn controversial comments made by Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh calling President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor “racist.”

Facing repeated questions, McConnell insisted he had “better things to do” than “be a speech police” for his fellow conservatives.

One thing I haven’t seen, though, is any attempt to justify her statement.  No one is leaping to defend what she said, not even her.  Maybe because it’s tough to defend the indefensible.  Kinda funny, though, watching a member of the Left hoist on her own politically-correct petard.

For the record, I think her statement expresses bigotry, not racism.  She’s talking about her innate superiority to white males based on her gender and ethnicity.  I don’t think she ought to get a pass on it.  To me, the judgment of a statement’s bigotry doesn’t depend on the gender or ethnicity of the speaker, it depends on the ideas expressed.  The Republicans in the Senate should be all over this.

Thomas Sowell has some thoughts on the substitution of the rule of emotions for the rule of law:

The very idea that a judge’s “life experiences” should influence judicial decisions is as absurd as it is dangerous.

It is dangerous because citizens are supposed to obey the law, which means they must know what the law is in advance — and nobody can know in advance what the “life experiences” of whatever judge they might appear before will happen to be.

…The real question is whether the Republican Senators have the guts to alert the public to the dangers of putting this kind of judge on the highest court in the land, so that they will at least have some chance of stopping the next one that comes along.

It would be considered a disgrace if an umpire in a baseball game let his “empathy” determine whether a pitch was called a ball or strike. Surely we should accept nothing less from a judge.

This is excellent terrain for Republicans to make a principled stand.  Somebody needs to, because if bigotry masquerading as empathy comes to rule our courts, we’re sunk.

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