Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Empathy Police, Keystone Kops

Charges of racism against Sonia Sotomayor are being reduced to exceeding the speed limit for empathy as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions instructs former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia on the finer points of demographic discrimination.

In the scramble to discredit the President's Supreme Court nominee, what remains of the Republican Party is being decimated even more by open conflict between elected officials and "mouths" such as Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

After the former Speaker walked back his twittering about racism, Sessions voiced approval of the retraction to focus on the issue of empathy:

“I firmly believe that many judges on the Supreme Court feel too empowered to impose their personal views while they interpret statutes or constitutions and that’s where we ought to focus the debate. Will she be restrained? Will she simply follow the law and be a neutral umpire or will she be a judge that’s not committed to faithful interpretation of the law, will not subordinate herself to the law?"

This line of attack, a view of robotic judges hewing to the letter of the law and ignoring its impact on human beings, comes with ill grace from those with a heritage of using it to maintain a "separate but equal" society in the South for almost a century--an America where today's president would not have been allowed to vote and where the mixed marriage of his parents was criminal under a "faithful interpretation of the law."

In trying to make "empathy" a dirty word, Republicans may want to look at Dick Cheney, the Radical Right's hero, who is diverging from the party line on gay marriage, presumably because he has some of that undesirable feeling for his own daughter.

If GOP Senators want to vote against Judge Sotomayor's confirmation, they will have to come up with a better rationalization than that.

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