Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sotomayor: you can't get more experience than her!

This morning I read Jonah Goldberg's column in the Wisconsin State Journal regarding President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Needless to say, I was a bit outraged by what I read.

Essentially, Goldberg wrote that there is no place for "empathy" on the Court, a trait that he called the "key qualification" for Obama's pick. (It wasn't the key qualification by any means -- Obama laid out a laundry list of items needed for anyone he was going to nominate, and empathy was among them.) Justices have to apply the rule of law to each case equally, and any opinion reached through empathetic emotions would be derived through dubious means.

Goldberg acts as though Sotomayor is an ignoramus, as though she is not aware of her constitutional rights and duties as a judge (or justice). She ought to know better, for, if confirmed, she would have more federal experience than anyone else confirmed to the Court in the past 100 years.

Yes, if a justice were to rule solely on empathy, that would be wrong. But an empathetic judge who has Sotomayor's experience understands that empathy must be coupled with precedent. She may understand what a person is going through, but without precedent to back it up, it can't be applied. The added empathy factor that Obama was looking for is the empathy a person would have in order to seek out that precedent. Sotomayor has that empathy -- but also the knowledge to know when it's wrong to use it without backing it up with case law.

Those who have properly researched Sotomayor would know all these things -- and more: she's not the liberal communist that conservative commentators are making her out to be. In fact, she has sided with former President Bush's right to ban aid to foreign organizations that support abortion rights for women -- a conservative position, to be sure. She's also defended churches' rights to hire or fire applicants/workers based on their convictions, another conservative viewpoint.

There are many more examples of Sotomayor's breadth of experience and understanding of our legal system that conservatives have chosen to ignore. It would behoove Senate Republicans to do a little more investigating into the real Sotomayor, and to look past this "empathy" rhetoric that has everyone up in arms. Who knows: maybe these senators will see something they like in her after all.

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