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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?

Republicans, says trial and appellate attorney Paul Callan, “believe that empathy is a code word for activist judges. ... They’re trying to say that she’s going to decide cases on empathy rather than the law and that’s what they say is an activist judge.”

Callan says that a judge is more likely to use empathy in trial cases when extenuating circumstances might play a role in sentencing but it is less relevant when an appellate judge is reviewing a lower court decision. Callan believes that Democrats are over-emphasizing the importance of empathy at the Supreme Court level and that Republicans are under-estimating it’s value.

All this started shortly after President Obama nominated Sotomayor, when it was widely reported that she had given a speech about the wisdom of men vs. women deciding cases. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman,” she said, “with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life…”

The firestorm of criticism over this remark fueled Monday’s Republican chorus of criticism about empathy. So too did the president’s earlier rationale for picking a judge. Four days before picking Sotomayor he told a C-SPAN interviewer, “I thought empathy was an important quality and I continue to believe that. You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you. But you have to be able to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”

You can count on Democrats, who hold a majority on the Judiciary Committee, to say “amen” to that, which would all but guarantee Sotomayor’s elevation to the highest court in the land.

What do you think? Should judges use their feelings in court?


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Joane Johnson

    I find it absolutely amazing at how many people are against her. The reasoning is astounding. There are those who have written that she would use her gender and race as a deciding factor. There are those who use the imbecilic rationale if white men said this they would be called racist and sexist. They did not have to say it. They enacted it with laws. Actions speak louder than any words. From the constitution, where is made my people less than human, to laws of miscegenation, jim crow, grandfathered, denial of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, white men have written laws of denial and exclusion. Yes, things have changed but you cannot erase a wrong. You cannot undo the constitution, just amend it. The writings are there for all to see. So, save your whining for someone who cares, I don't. Save the empty protests, you have spoken volumes and the proof is still on the books.

    July 14, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  2. Stephen O.

    Absolutely NOT!

    July 14, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  3. Jorge Rivera

    Again:
    I am awe stricken by the ability of so called journalists to disregard certain details in order to perpetrate a viewpoint designed to please the ruling elite. Regarding the case of the nomination for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, I am of Puerto Rican decent and I feel a cetain amount of pride when a person from my background reaches such a high position. Nonetheless I dont think its about anyones race or color that should decide these offices, but rather their qualifications. Personaly although I believe she is very qualified I dont necessarily believe she has worked harder than any other minority even if they are blue collar workers. To a certain degree I have suspicions about all minorities who make it to such high posts even Obama himself, as being somewhat uncle tommish. They dont challenge the status quo in their lives enough. The reason being so that they can get ahead and be looked up at in good standing amongst the majority community. I prefer people like Thurgood Marshall, or Adam Clayton Powell or Dubois who challenged the Status Qou to get it right.
    But I do understand that the whole flap about her "Latina Woman" remark is truly dumbfounding and it makes the people who are reporting it, as well as those who don't defend it correctly smack of pure ignorance. You see the phrase starts with the words "I would hope". So that when an Idiot like Orren Hatch acuses her honor of stating that she says 'she is better than a white judge' it's just totally unfounded. She specifically says at the beginning "She would Hope." Now I'm not a constitutional Scholar but I know we still have free speech in this country, even judges. so for her to express the desire of hope doesnt seem to me to be incorrect. If she had said because I am Latina I am better thats a different notion. But she didnt, she expressed that she would hope that having been through a latina womans life, this could have educated her to making wizer choices than those who have so far held the post, White or Black...
    is there something wrong with hoping Latino people can do better in America?
    I'm just dumbfounded that eloquent speakers such as Sotomayor or Obama and thinkers like the CNN news team (HA), cant come up with that defense on their own and that I have to be the one to write it in a blog reply to bring everyones attention to it. Of course then there is the empathy factor as if any judge in the United States has totally thrown their politics out the window, or even their "empathy".
    Republicans despise empathy when they know that empathy will be used against big business and influential people but they coddle up to it when the empathetic ideal covers up for one of there own jurisprudences. Case in point when ex-vice president Cheney along with the Bush administration broke the laws on torture and cruel and unusual punishment... yet they ask for empathy in lieu of national security. And still another is when the financial sector broke the laws of misrepresenting and theft of both services and capital yet they get empathetic rewards (in the guise of financial packages) in order to save our economy. Insisting that empathy should play no part in the balancing of political injustice and constitutional law is not only impossible it is deceitful and hipocritical.
    Sincerely
    Jorge Rivera

    July 14, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  4. melrob9880

    Like Judge Judy once said, if you want empathy, go see Dr. Phil. If you want justice then come see me.

    Ms. Sotomayer, may heed Ms. Sheindlin's words. Do not let your feelings or anything get in the way of your rulings. Follow the letter of the law and apply it accordingly.

    Do I want her appointed to the SCOTUS ? In one word NO. I believe that if she is appointed, then we will become more fractional in the US, then we are already. Racial tensions are still high in this country, and to have someone say that she is a smart latina women, before she says she is an american, does not sit well with a lot people. A lot of people see themselves as an American 1st, and their heritage as 2nd. Not the other way around.

    July 14, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  5. Ed - Rochester, NY

    Cases that reach the Supreme Court generally do so because either the Constitution is vague with regard to the particular issue or there are competing rights that must be balanced. Judges are bound by precedent while Justices are not, although they will usually follow former rulings unless there are good reasons to abandon them. While the Constitution must guide any decision, it's unrealistic to expect or even desire that Justices will not incorporate their own sense of fairness when balancing rights or interpreting the scope of a law. What would we have them do? Throw darts when no particular conclusion is demanded? Life experiences and how they shape one's sense of fairness and empathy are therefore relevant to the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice.

    July 14, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  6. Elizabeth

    I too feel that Sotomayor is as ill-suited to beccome a justice on our Supreme Court. I don't like her one bit.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  7. Steve Fulton

    In no way should she be confirmed for this job as judge to the U.S supreme court, nor should have been chosen to represent justice of the land with her remarks that she has made in the past on many different issues. I have to ask where do they get such nominees as this one and aren't there others out there that have better qualifications than she has, i"m sure there are, so why do we not check these potential nominees out better than we do. Why do we have to waste valuble time with these confirmation hearings when it could all be shortened by just checking them out before they are selected. Why do these representatives always do things the hard way and cosume so much time when doing it. Sotomayor should not be appointed to the supreme court because that would be a huge mistake for all of us. Please do not confirm her.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  8. shirley sisco-jordan

    I find it very sad that the Republicans can feel Judge Sotomayorl is a raciest when all you see is a group of white men only at the table confirming her. What does that tell you? I feel you all only put people on your program who are bias. We would like to see more blacks to balance it out. Please Larry King enough of Michael Jackson. Let him rest in peace and give his fans the respect they should have. Talk about the sad past Vice President ,Senators and Congressments that are a disgrace and nothing done about it.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  9. Bernice

    No place for empathy.. The law is to be the law! A set for life? Now, how scarry is that?? Smart, articulate? OK.. I give her that! But it takes much more than this! UMBIAS! JUST! Follow the law, without re-writing it, somehow without racism! She is not qualified under those American traits! She will remove your guns and our country will suffer with this change in our justice system. What a complete shame!

    July 14, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  10. shan

    this is a mess

    July 14, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  11. Dustin Diamond

    Quote: craig martin
    "One committee member criticized Ms Sotomayor for being like a prejudiced umpire, but objecting to her empathy is like preferring umpires who have never played baseball."

    No, No, No...If Sotomayor was a baseball umpire then when a white kid stepped up to bat, she would say.."you know hispanics are better than white at baseball so you don't get to bat, go sit down whitey, hey jose, your turn again." This lady needs to be FIRED for discrimination!! If she was the manager at McDonalds and she told a black kid that he couldn't be hired because she thinks hispanics are smarter than them. She would be locked up. Fined out the ying yang, and possibly more!! THIS double standard has to stop! Already "minorities" get free money from gov't, they are forced into work places even if they are not qualified and they take jobs of the qualified because they say it is discrimination, but when they do it to a white person it is just fine?? NO IT'S NOT!! she is not worthy of the job. period.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  12. Rob Sayles

    Whatever happened to the thought that we are all products of our environment?
    I tend to believe that when people, including Judge Sotomayor, are being practical in recognizing we all have different lenses that we view the world through.
    I don't think for one second that the judge is not smart enough to know that she must apply the rule of law. As a member of the highest court in the nation, she will probably be called on to rule in cases that require more than mere rubber stamp application of the status quo, however.
    It is the difference between managing versus leading, doing things right versus doing the right thing, judging versus umpiring. All are necessary for the total success package and unlike those trying discredit her, Sotomayor gets it.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  13. Dan

    Judge Sonia Sotomayor is more qualified than any Justice currently sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States, or that has sat on it in decades. The quotes the Republicans are trying to trash her with are being taken out of context, and in context she indicates her efforts to always stay unbiased. She is smart, articulate and has an affable nature. The Republicans will not be able to goad her into a mistake. There is no way that the Republicans will be able to muster the votes to block her, so all they are going to get from their attacks is to further alienate many Latinos. So, good job Republicans, keep it up!!! After all, alienating the fastest growing group in the country, is a great way to keep your party irrelevant.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  14. Aiden

    I believe empathy is crucial when it comes to judging. If there was a case in which someone who stole something in order to feed his/her family, I would hope the judge would feel more empathic to his/her case than someone who stole for their own personnal greed. The world is not black and white and neither should be the law.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  15. norman hart

    there is no place for empathy in a court of law.
    norman hart

    July 14, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  16. Robert McMurray

    It's inevitable, political or not, an individuals feelings and upbringing is pertinent to ones opinions and observation. Emphathy? well, who has not, but, it can be extreme and or due to experience. The law is blind and it's black and white it's our observations that tends to turn it to gray. The unwarranted or prejudicial grilling by republicans (who by the way, were behind and advocated the KKK in it's infancy) Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!! give me a break you hypoctites.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:03 am |
  17. name

    American-Latin woman, Everyone just keeps saying Latino! This is America, she is an American first just like anyone else. Am I right or wrong here??

    July 14, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  18. brian

    Please understand:

    There is s difference between empathy as a basis for knowledge–for gaining facts and empathy as a basis for ethics- as a criterion for judgement.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  19. Mary Lou Krosnick

    I strongly support the candidacy of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. She is so extraordinarily qualified that it SHOULD be beyond question. She has been appointed by TWO presidents from both parties and found very qualified.

    July 14, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  20. Craig Blackburn, Los Angeles

    Sandra Day O'connor said in interview "The only reason she selected George W. Bush in 2000 was because: There was no way she would have a democrat as president when she retired." This, in itself, should give all judges the right to vote for any reason they want to. If she didn't vote with her emotions Al Gore would have been president.
    She should have been disbarred for this comment. You cann't argue with that. No one questioned her. After all the years she spent on her position, when she retired I have no respect for her.
    Republicans Beware. You have nothing to hold against her.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  21. Santo

    I think, that its about time we let a latina woman into a position of importances, and stop playing the game of racis attack. We all have opinion, and in some there are many hidden agenda not reveal, therefore, those who are without sin-cast the first stone.
    We want change, but we destroy the fabric of what can make this country great--GIVE THE WOMAN A CHANCE TO PROVE HER SELF.
    The end

    July 14, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  22. Doug Bradley

    Absolutely no!!!

    You make it sound as if she made the racist remark about the wise Latino once.
    It is documented she said it at least 7 times.
    Would you give a white man the same brake you are giving her?

    July 14, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  23. Nickoy

    It is the responsible of judges to ensure that the law is serve but in the best interests of the parties brought before them. Therefore, it is inevitable that judges will use their feelings in court (since the law is not always black and white), as more often than not, their discretion must be applied to the evidence presented. However, personal feelings should not be entertained when making a ruling.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  24. Ricardo Torres

    I do support Judge Sotomayor for Supreme Court. Bless our Vets, but remember preferences are in our system of govt. For ex. When a Vet goes for a gov't job such as working for the Postal Service They are given a Five point prefernce for serving in the armed forces. Where as I working to pay my taxes and being a law abiding citizen don't get any preference. The judge has a history of rulings that speak for her.I believe she would make a valuable complement to the Supreme Court.
    Ricardo

    July 14, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  25. Joel Goldstein

    Bottom line, I don't want an activist judge on the supreme court making decisions based on how they personally feel and thats exactly what you get with this nominee.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  26. Anne Marie Hoehner

    I do not support the appointment of any supreme court justice who feels empathy towards ANY demographic is justified. I'm a white female and the richness of my experience tells me that Ms. Sotomayor will not favor people who are like me. I also believe she will say whatever it takes to get appointed.....bait and switch....just like Barak Obama has done –campaign vs. reality.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  27. PETER DOHAN

    OH DO I EVER SUPPORT HER. I JUST HOPE ANOTHER CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE RETIRES SO WE WILL HAVE A COURT THAT IS NOT ANTEDILUVIAN BUT FACING THE ISSUES OF OUR NEW CENTURY.

    AS TO SOTOMAYOR, LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL AND HAPPY HER FACE IS. AS LINCOLN SAID IN REJECTING A CANDIDATE FOR A POSITION, HE DID NOT LIKE HIS FACE BECAUSE AFTER FORTY WE CHOOSE OUR FACE. SHE HAS A WONDERFUL, SOMEWHAT CHESHIRE CAT SMILE, FACE. GOOD LUCK TO HER.

    July 14, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  28. Zelda

    Absolutely! Feelings, intuition, the Universe, God ... whatever you want to call it, it's the best weapon you have against making a bad decision.

    Absolutely!

    July 14, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  29. Terry Diaz

    As a professional latino who has a very simiar backgrouud to that of Ms Sotomayor I believe that empathy should play a limited role in a judges decisions. Whether we like to admit it or not judges have in the past allowed things other than just the law affect their decisions. To disqualify this person from become a supreme court judge just because some conservatives think she might be able to relate to the minorities or disadvantage in our society would be a disjustice for all. After how hard she worked to overcome her poor background, I would think that she might be more tough on someone with a similar background rather than giving them a break. As I stated I have a similar backgound and my attitude is "If I can do it you can also".

    July 14, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  30. Bernice

    Mark! The words of the day came from U!! This should be a position lasting no more than 4 years! That should really be changed! I can not imagine her in this seat for 4 years, but having to imagine her there for life ...is just scarry! This is wrong! SO< ANTI-American

    July 14, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  31. Q Jordon

    Absolutely not. A judge is not there to have their "feelings" decide a case. It is about the rule of law. If we decide to change the laws, then judge accordingly. The idea of feelings over the law scares the hell out of me.

    I agree that most come to the courts with a bias based upon their experiences they have had during their lives, however, the bottom line is following what is in the law and not creating what is not by using feelings over rational and logic.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  32. Mark Barillaro

    I'm hoping that Republicans can shut down this nominee. Her world vlew is defined by her gender and her heritage, not by basic law. I believe the time has come to amend the constitution and appoint federal judges for a given term rather than for life. It's apparent the whole process has become politicized, something a lifetime appointment was meant to prevent. Finally, there's something off about a person who goes through life with a stupid grin constantly plastered to their face. It's as if she's got a voice in her head telling jokes!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  33. Evelyne

    Which is worse? Judges who has empathy to apply the law or Judges who manipulate the law for their prejudicial and discriminatory stand. I have a son who is bi-polar who is currently in jail for nearly four years. He has demanded his right for a trial and has beeen denied that right through coercive efforts (prejudicial manipulation) for him to take a plea. Even his mental condition is in denial by Judge Hudson who manipulated the law and confined him to a state residential facility because he has found him to be "mentally ill". Then when my son was arrested for attempted robbery, the same Judge now deems him "competent" and says he is "acting". This Judge refuses to recuse himself and his lawyer was worn out from hearings which only the same Judge would hear as opposed to going to trial. Finally, my son was told to just plea to one case inasmuch as they threw 12-16 cases at him in order to close the counties unsolved robberies. (empathy or manipulation of law). My son has a long history of mental illness and has been in residential psychiatric centers for years. He also gave up and took the plea and was given 20 years to life..basically a death penalty because he is suffering from a fatal disease and will not live that long. (empathy or manipulation of law to keep him from going to trial where his medical condition could be used to obtain proper treatment or was it application of law to incarcerate a Black man and deny him proper mental health). My son is not a murderer, a rapist, or a pedophile and has never hurt anyone.
    My son tried to take back his plea. But guess who he is dealing with..the same Judge who has him exactly where he wants him to keep him from going to trial, do you think this Judge is using empathy or manipulation of law inasmuch as the Judge would have to become a witness and attest to my son's mental health since he confined him to a mental institution when he was doing well and was not symptomatic of his disease. My son is now fully symptomatic and you cannot have a logical conversation with him, nor can he participate in his own defense. Also consider the fact that a new medical report was requested for sentencing him back in March, 2009. As of yesterday the 730 did not come in. The Judge himsel is my son's foe.
    The Prosecution does not have to do anything since the Judge acted for the Prosecutor in many respects. Empathy or Manipulation of Law?

    July 14, 2009 at 7:39 am |
  34. Bernice

    NO! Absolutely NOT! The law is the law people! Who is she to change the law or OUR constitution?? Wow!! Now he just may get that 40 year reign of terror against the American People?? You people will end up loosing our country to socialism and then off to communism! They already told us that this was thier intentions!! I WANT FREEDOM!!! If you guys don't, please go to Russia, and let the people who love thier country not only keep it and take care of it, but let us keep our constitution JUST AS IT IS! I want our constitutional rights left in tact! They are shredding it to bits! Wake up people before it is much tooooo late!!!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:36 am |
  35. Nanci

    What a huge waste of time!!! I watched all 4 hours of the hearing yeaterday..... the Senators on the committee did nothing but grandstand! The Dems repeated her bio, then her qualifications, then talked about themselves, while the Reps all repeated her rulings, then talked about themselves. Are they trying to get good footage for their own campaign ads? That's the only reason I can think of for this ridiculous exercise.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  36. Christine from Ocean City, MD

    Somebody needs to let Jeff Sessions know that empathy is not a synonym for predjudice- in fact it’s the opposite!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  37. Joe Derwin

    At our political committee's monthly meeting last night, we had several candidates for New York State Supreme Court justice speak to us. Every one of them spoke of their education and personal life experiences as critical in the formation of their judicial philospophy and temperment. They all stated clearly that it is the combination of knowledge of the law, courtroom experience, and life experience that forms the foundation for what they do in their courtrooms every day. Several stated unequivocally that "empathy" is very important to them as one of the means by which they can ensure justice to those that come before them, as witnesses, the aggrievd or the accused. One would need to be detached from reality to think that judges do not use judgment in deliberating the facts of a case. A judge renders an "opinion." How can an opinion be formed without considering one's view of the facts as they relate to the law? Apparently, Judge Sotomayor's critics need to put down the ideology and pickup some common sense.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:24 am |
  38. Julien Therrien

    Of course empathy is a quality we should seek in a Supreme Court nominee. Ideally, a judge should be able to put empathize in every case before them and apply the law.

    .I use the qualifier ” Ideally” because EVERY Justice brings their own personal experience to the bench

    Julien Therrien
    Shelby, NC

    July 14, 2009 at 7:23 am |
  39. Mike in Mississippi

    For judges to use their feelings in court would be about the same as making new law and that's not a judge's role. That said, when a judge issues an "opinion", by definition, incorporates the law as well as the judges' feelings about the law. It's a fine line that somebody has to walk. Although I don't think a judge should use their feelings in court, I don't think it possible for a judge not to use their feelings when writing an opinion. A judge's interpretation of the law is their feelings about the law. I see it every day in my job as a paralegal. The two unknowns of our judicial system is how a judge is going to rule and what a jury verdict will be.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:23 am |
  40. Dave M

    Of course they should include their feelings in the overall judgement equation... if not; we should just let unfeeling computers decide every case.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:23 am |
  41. charles pace

    Wasn't Jeff Sessions the senator who championed the nomination of Charles Pickering, the Bush nominee to the federal judiciary who, in 1959 wrote a paper defending Mississippi's anti-miscegenation law? And didn't then-Attorney General Sessions (Alabama) misuse the office to pursue baseless charges of voting fraud against the NAACP just to intimidate black voters? It seems Senator Sessions would like to see someone like himself as Supreme Ct. Justice. Someone who will uphold and protect the property interests of all white people in ensuring that their genetic purity is not degraded by inter-racial marriage. Someone who will act under color of law to keep black people from voting. I would like to think that, more often than not, a wise Latina (like Justice Sotomayor) would make a better decision that a white racist (like Senator Sessions). But in the end, we follow the law ... or at least most of us do.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  42. Evie, PA

    It's NO wonder the Republicans don't like Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The more they complain about her, the more foolish they appear to be! Judge Sotomayor is NOT a Drama Queen like Sarah Palin. There's a calm, quiet confidence about her that shows her strength of character, in spite of all the negative things being said about her. I can clearly see why Pres. Obama nominated her for the Supreme Court. Intelligence and diligence without empathy is too rigid, and leaves no room for careful evaluation. Intelligent, empathetic decision-making is effective & balanced. She is the perfect choice!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:15 am |
  43. TheBigSarge

    as to the quesiton: Should judges use their feelings in court?

    i say "NO! Most definately not."

    there are those who feel empathy for convicts who are given harsh sentences, but if the sentence was given based on fact, without prejudice and without coercion, within the limits allowed by LAW, then no one should tamper with it.

    if the prisoner is found to be rehabilitated, is regretful of having committed the crime (not just remorseful of being caught) and is sincerely believed to be an asset to our society, then the PAROLE BOARD can intervene and grant early release.

    the governor and the president can also intervene if there is an injustice. and there is an appeals process throughout the time being served.

    the LAW is the LAW!

    -TheBigSarge

    July 14, 2009 at 7:15 am |
  44. Frank

    No! If a white man said those things, he would be labeled a racist...and rightly so...from the left. Where is their outcry?? Another example of the left's double standard.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  45. Ray

    It would be impossible for a judge to use their life experiences to make judicial decisions and be fair to all concerned. For example, Judge Sotomayor's life of urban living in New York's Bronx area has nothing, I mean NOTHING, in commom with my life growing up in rural Georgia. My blue collar family was basically poor, but very hard working. We never took anything from the government and paid for all that we had from our hard work. We learned to fish and hunt as a means to put food on the table. We did not and do not believe in government assistance of any kind and we are pro 2nd Amendment.
    So, how can I support someone who, obviously, has a view of life in America so different from mine? How can that person remotely understand who and what I am? A life long Supreme Court position? I don't think so.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  46. Larry

    These comments made by Hatch, Sessions, Graham et al show how desperate the Republican party has become as they watch their party go down in flames. That won't stop Ms. Sotomayor's confirmation to the court.

    We all make decisions based on our experiences in life. It's called learning, and it's called life.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:12 am |
  47. Jim

    Judge Sotmayer will make a great additon to the court as she has the experience, intellect, and empathy to make the decisions affecting all Americans. It is ridiculous to say one's feelings cannot play any role in judiclal decisions. For this to happen, a judge would have to become a robot, devoid of all human feelings. A judge must first and foremost apply judiclal review but this will always be tempered by past experiences aa Judge Alito has even said about his immigrant heritage. I support the appointment of Judge Sotomayer and look forward to her making great contributions to the Supreme Court in the years to come.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:12 am |
  48. Patrick Jeffers

    I am in full support of Judge Sotomayor. In my view her fervor brings a breath of humanity to the Supreme Court. Given the well-documented legacy of judicial bias against minority social groups, it seems almost ludicrous that these hypocritical white men would pretend to criticize her candor about bringing her own experience to bear in excuting the law. Total objectivitity may be an ideal, but if were indeed attainable, then there should be no need for a panel of nine Supreme Court Justices. Right?! All we would need to do is simply consult the scroll!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  49. Carmen

    Yes! We don't want robots to sit at SCOTUS. Judge Sotomayor is disciplined and experienced enough to balance the rule of law and empathy. Those who say otherwise just want to keep the balance of SCOTUS to rest on the ultra conservative, white male side. This is a different world and we need to adjust to it. My humble opinion – as I am about the reach my 70th birthday.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:10 am |
  50. Roger

    Unless she is found unqualified she should be approved. Ideology differences permeate the court now. The Chief justice is a Christian right thinker along with three other justices. Four of the other are liberal leaning. I doubt that there has ever been a Supreme Court judge that could act as a robot and only make decisions based on fact and existing law. Personal experiences, feelings and ideologies have always played out in the courts. The Republicans need to just move on. Attempting to discredit her by painting her incapable of making an unbiased decision is counterproductive to her and the American public.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:10 am |
  51. PETER DOHAN

    THE QUESTION IS GOOD BUT OXYMORONIC. THEY ALL USE THEIR FEELINGS AND INCLINATIONS IN RENDERING AN OPINION, BE IT SCALIA OR SOUTER.

    July 14, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  52. TheBigSarge

    after listening to justice nominee sotomayor, it is evident that she is not only politically motivated, but espouses the rhetoric that the current administration promised to CHANGE.

    when she is speaking with those who are like-minded with her apparent philosophy, she speaks openly about MAKING-LAW (which she stated justices do not do) and her speech is racially charged with a negative undercurrent towards "white" america.

    i feel that justice nominee sotomayor is as ill-suited to become a justice on our nation's highest court, just as i would condemn the nomination of a right-wing politically motivated "white" justice.

    btw: i am neither hispanic descent nor white. i'm one of those blessed with being an american of very (VERY VERY) mixed race.

    -TheBig Sarge

    July 14, 2009 at 7:08 am |
  53. Julien Therrien

    Of course empathy is a quality we should seek in a Supreme Court nominee. Ideally, a judge sould be able to put themselves in every case before them and apply the law
    .I use the qualifier " Ideally" because EVERY Justice brings their own personal experience to the bench

    Julien Therrien
    Shelby, NC

    July 14, 2009 at 6:56 am |
  54. Bill Cornelison

    Each side of a dispute believes they are correct. It is the job of a lawyer to put the judge or jury into the shoes of their client to prove their case. Judges are not robots, it is their role to apply the law as seen from each side of the dispute, and determine who's case is more compelling.

    July 14, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  55. Cindy Meyer

    Yes, a judge and every person should have empathy when
    hearing about a person's circumstances or why a person acted a certain way, but the empathy should not change the way
    the judge will rule about guilt or if the law is broken.
    A teacher will show empathy for a child from a broken
    home who is constantly misbehaving...but that doesn't keep
    the child from receiving consequences for his wrong behavior.
    If the judges had not shown empathy for the little girl and her family in Brown vs. Board of Education, we might still have segregated schools.

    July 14, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  56. Vernon

    What an unfair & unbalanced report on Sotomayor - talk abouted biased reporting - horrible. Is that what you call journalism? Lady Justice is blindfolded - she doesn't have 1 eye open for "empathy"!

    July 14, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  57. craig martin

    One committee member criticized Ms Sotomayor for being like a prejudiced umpire, but objecting to her empathy is like preferring umpires who have never played baseball.

    July 14, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  58. June

    In one word, yes!...are we so blind that we can't see that?

    July 14, 2009 at 6:45 am |