Obama said a Supreme Court nominee's two most important qualities are her rigorous intellect and mastery of the law and her recognition of the limits of the judicial role -- that a judge's job is to interpret law, not to make it.Or Thomas Sowell's latest article.
Then came the "but," the exception that imperceptibly swallowed the rule. He quoted former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." In other words: "Forget what I just said about how judges should interpret, not make, the law. I want my judges to have empathy. And don't tell anyone, but when I say 'empathy,' that's code for bending the law to achieve the results I want based on the selective empathy I have for certain victimized groups."
"Empathy" for particular groups can be reconciled with "equal justice under law"-- the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court-- only with smooth words. But not in reality.Here's the childishness; the assessment that the law has basically one honest interpretation. When a judge rules, there is one right answer, clearly stated in the laws. If Sotomayer fails to apply the clearly self evident law, because of empathy or reverse racism or anything, she is unfit to serve. Conveniently the law, if properly applied, is always conservative.
But of course that is childish. If the law were so self evident, as Anonymous Liberal points out, well, Courts of Appeal and Supreme Courts wouldn't really be necessary.
But in Simplistic Republican World, none of this actually happens. Good conservative judges don't "make policy," they simply enforce the law. The law is apparently always clear. Indeed it's a wonder that lawyers even bother to appeal cases in the Fourth Circuit. After all, they should know that the conservative jurists in that circuit will simply "enforce the law" (because they wouldn't dream of "making policy"), so the outcome should be very predictable.And, finally, it goes without saying that it wouldn't matter who Obama put up, they were always going to be the most liberal person ever nominated to the supreme court.