By Sally Zelikovsky
With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor comes yet another democrat sleight of hand–ignoring one reality and twisting another.
Obama calls for a Supreme Court justice who “understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”
In addition to experience, competence, intelligence and a law degree, Mr. Obama is seeking a resume with the added virtues of empathy and the experience of having overcome life’s obstacles.
A close examination of a few of the sitting Supreme Court justices should shed some light on Obama’s expectation that empathy and a tough life will necessarily translate into the kind of justice Obama would like to see on the bench.
If, indeed, overcoming life’s hardships is critical to one’s nomination and somehow perceived as an indication of how a justice will rule from the supreme bench, then Clarence Thomas, would surely win the prize. Having come from probably the poorest background of any of the sitting justices, no father in the family picture, raised by his grandparents and having clawed his way through schools and life with only his intellect as a guide, he should be revered by the left.
Instead, he was reviled and maligned before stepping foot onto the bench and has been anything but lauded for his Supreme Court decisions. Clearly misguided, the left perceives Thomas as a sell-out, an Uncle Tom, who, because of his conservative viewpoint, does not rule from his heart and is not driven by the empathy and compassion he should possess based on his personal experiences. (Ironically, Thomas is more or less the conscience of the Court, often reminding his brothers and sisters of the Court’s proper role, ever toeing the line that judges should not legislate from the bench. He has often expressed discomfort with the outcome of some of the decisions but has made clear that they are issues to be resolved by the legislature and not the Court.)
Had life’s hardships and Thomas’ ability to relate to the average guy on the street been requirements for his nomination and accurately predicted his popularity as a justice, he would be batting 1000 in the eyes of the left. But the left perceives the second black man on the bench, who is from the poorest most dysfunctional background, as a big zero. Plugging Thomas’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.
When the Thomas story is contrasted with that of Justice Stevens, a veritable jurisprudential icon of the left, the sheer inanity of Obama’s reasoning emerges. Stevens, who is white, comes from probably the most affluent background of all of the sitting justices–the son of a man who made a fortune in the insurance and hotel business. He led a life of privilege and, according to the left, a life which should immediately disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court because a white man of such wealth and prominence could never possess the empathy or understanding to relate to the common man.
And yet, this white man of status, has proven to be one of the most liberal justices on the Court, whose opinions are praised by progressives. While he should be a big zero, he is batting 1000 in the eyes of the left (and is still going strong at 89). Again, plugging Stevens’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.
In reality, sitting on the Supreme Court is a man of little means and comfort, who grew up black and poor, and should, by all meaningful liberal calculations, be a superb Supreme Court justice, yet his opinions are condemned by the left. In stark contrast to this is a man on the bench of considerable means and comfort, who grew up white and wealthy and should stand in complete contradiction to everything the left stands for, yet is the standard-bearer for the liberal jurisprudential mantra of legislating from the bench.
We are left with a nomination process that has no bearing whatsoever on reality (the reality being that each nominee’s judicial philosophy and actual record are paramount), but on a perceived reality that a nominee’s past personal history is tantamount to his/her decision-making abilities as, it is hoped, will be the case with Sonia Sotomayor–even though it is certainly not the reality among those currently sitting on the bench.
Simply put: there is no guarantee that one’s background or station in life, let alone color, gender or ethnicity will dictate one’s judicial philosophy and, while interesting, should not factor into a Supreme Court nomination. Supreme Court case law is rife with rulings that benefit Americans of all shapes and sizes and were handed down by…white men. If we accept as true the fact that white men are incapable of handing down legal decisions that benefit minorities, then, taken to its logical extreme, we would have to go through the contortions of doing away with Brown v. Board of Education given that all of the Supreme Court justices in 1954 were white men. That’s how twisted Obama’s reasoning is.
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