It finally hits me

Forgive the thickness of my head. I was born with a thick head, not an entirely big one, the latter feature being common with the smart people of the world like, um, G. K. Chesterton. (I have more examples, really, I just don’t feel like making the case for why I put them in that category. Incidentally, did Jesus have a big head? Was he a “smart” guy, as it were?)

The SCOTUS news is what I’m talking about though. When Bush was pushing Alito and Roberts through there was plenty of talk about compassionate and empathetic judges then, too. “They’re not supposed to be compassionate, they’re supposed to be impartial!” says one side; “they’re supposed to understand the plight of the poor, the dispossessed!” says the other, and a great flailing argument ensues.

I remember my brother, during the Roberts/Alito bit, had several conversations with a lawyer friend of his who insisted that the empathy argument had some legs---some pretty decent legs---since we all bring this or that from our experiences, etc., etc.. It’s actually not a bad argument when it’s all fleshed out since, well, cultural issues, identity issues, and so on definitely contribute to the way we think. So the full fledged lefties and those leaning that way are right to include this sympathy bit.

But this is exactly where the debate gets all skewed. What the left means by sympathy is sympathy of a very specific kind.

I do want a sympathetic and empathetic judge. I want someone who sympathizes with the one who has been treated unjustly under the law, no? After all, a person with no feelings is quite illogical. But that’s not what most people mean when they want a sympathetic judge. What they mean is they want someone who is sympathetic to their own understanding of what sympathy is; someone who shares their political and sociological opinions about what makes for the best kind of society. They want someone who has no problem with the notion of legislating those beliefs from the bench (ding!), who agrees with their positions (ding!) and also makes them look pretty sympathetic themselves for picking that particular person (ding again!).

The other problem is the credentials involved. Clearly in the case of Sotomayor it is her empathy; her childhood experience trumps intelligence. You can hate Roberts and Alito, but you can’t deny that they are intellectual powerhouses. Sotomayor, however, is kinda lacking there. So not only is it the liberal nature of her apparent sympathy (or empathy) that’s highly problematic, but it’s also the point at which that empathy starts to kick in as the sole deciding force in making decisions. I daresay that point comes to her long before it would with someone like Roberts, if it ever did.


Copyright © 2009 - Reck of Things - is proudly powered by Blogger
Smashing Magazine - Design Disease - Blog and Web - Blogger Theme distributed by FREE Templates 4U