American Morning

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July 14th, 2009
06:39 AM ET

Should judges use their feelings in court?

Nobody could accuse Senate Republicans of showing their touchy-feely side Monday.

GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took careful aim at Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court by expressing their disdain for any judge using empathy when making judicial decisions.

First up, Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), who posed the question: “Must judges set aside, or may judges consider, their personal feelings in deciding cases?”

His fellow Republicans were quick to answer:

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): “This empathy standard is trouble to me. In fact, I’m concerned that judging based on empathy is really just legislating from the bench.”

Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona): “If judges routinely started ruling on the basis of their personal feelings, however well-intentioned, the entire legitimacy of the judicial system would be jeopardized.”

And Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama): “Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it is not law. In truth it is more akin to politics. And politics has no place in the courtroom.”

Why the big concern about empathy?


Filed under: Supreme Court
July 14th, 2009
06:26 AM ET

Obama's other wife – by Tina Brown

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Barack Obama (L) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (2R) converse while having traditional Russian tea on a terrace at Putin's residence outside Moscow on July 7, 2009."]

By Tina Brown
The Daily Beast

Left behind on major presidential trips, overruled in choosing her own staff—Hillary Clinton is the invisible woman at State. But Obama's brilliant foreign-policy spouse may not stay silent forever.

It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa.

Consider the president’s Moscow trip a week ago. In a cozy scene at Vladimir Putin’s dacha, the boys enjoyed traditional Russian tea and breakfast on a terrace. Sitting on Putin’s right was the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Where was Lavrov’s counterpart? She was back home, left there with a broken elbow to receive a visit from the ousted Honduran president, José Manuel Zelaya.

It becomes clearer by the day how cleverly Obama checkmated both Clintons by putting Hillary in the topmost Cabinet job.

Same thing last month, when the president stopped off to see King Abdullah en route to his oratorical home run in Cairo: no Hillary. Nor was there any sign of Middle East envoy George Mitchell or anyone else from the State Department on the Saudi leg of the trip, even though its main mission was to recruit Abdullah into a peace-making partnership with Israel. The king told Obama no, by the way, so it’s fair to ask whether the president could have used a bit more Foggy Bottom prep work. Jim Hoagland noted in Sunday’s Washington Post that the White House’s leak of Obama’s decision to send an ambassador to Syria took Clinton’s State Department by surprise and trumped State’s efforts to squeeze another concession or two out of Damascus first.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
July 14th, 2009
06:08 AM ET

Sotomayor confirmation hearings continue today

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said Monday that her hotly disputed judicial philosophy is, in fact, quite simple: Remain faithful to the law.

"In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy," Sotomayor told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during her opening statement at her confirmation hearings.

"It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record ... reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms, interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and by my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."

Sotomayor said the "process of judging is enhanced when the arguments and concerns of the parties to the litigation are understood and acknowledged."

Do you support Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court? Tell us your thoughts.

Filed under: Supreme Court
July 14th, 2009
06:07 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Tuesday July 14, 2009

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

  • Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is heading back to Capitol Hill in a few hours for day two of confirmation hearings.  She's almost certain to be confirmed to the high court, but not before a tough round of questions from Republicans.  We'll talk to two of the senators who will question Judge Sotomayor today, Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
  • Hole in a plane.  With 131 people on-board, at 30-thousand feet, a hole the size of a football rips through the fuselage of a Southwest jet.  The plane made an emergency landing in West Virginia.  But this morning, the terrifying accident is leaving officials with more questions than answers.
  • A Florida couple, shot to death in their home while nine of their adopted children were also in the house.  This morning police say they expect to make more arrests and admit they don't think robbery was the only motive in this crime.  We're live from Pensacola with the latest.
  • New developments in a story you saw here on American Morning. You may remember the Pennsylvania swim club that barred a group of mostly black day-campers because, as the pool president said, their presence would "change the complexion" of the place.  Some children said they overheard white members of the club saying things like: "what are all these black kids doing here?"  Well now, after the story made national headlines, the swim club is pulling an about face and inviting the kids to come back.  But parents say that's not enough.  They want the resignation of all board members of the swim club – and plan to file a federal lawsuit against it.

Filed under: What's On Tap
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