Why so much worry about 'empathy' on the Supreme Court?
The New York Times reports that President Obama is avoiding the word empathy as he picks his second Supreme Court nominee. And who can blame him, considering comments such a this from former Bush 43 adviser Ed Gillespie: “Empathy’s a great trait in a drinking buddy, but not so much a Supreme Court justice.”
But does the E-word really deserve all of this focus? Shouldn’t the priority be finding a Supreme Court justice who isn’t, say, corruptible or mendacious? Is it better to have a corporate stooge on the bench than someone capable of understanding how his or her decisions will affect 300 million fellow citizens? Better to have a biased judge than a humane one, a dishonest justice instead of one who’s insightful?
Obama’s critics might say that this is all rhetorical excess: after all, not picking a dishonest judge is a requirement assumed by all. Perhaps, but it still goes to show how hysterical those critics have become about empathy. It is simply ridiculous to place it so high on the list of undesirable traits for a Supreme Court justice.
Katrina vanden Heuvel
| April 28, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories: vanden Heuvel | Tags: Katrina vanden Heuvel
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