While guest hosting Bill Bennett's radio show Friday, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gave his own perspective on whether a Supreme Court Justice should have "empathy." President Obama said on the campaign trail that it was a quality he would look for in a nominee. Via ThinkProgress:
"Good morning y'all, we're back in the house. We're talking a little bit of Constitution and a little bit Supreme Court. And a whole lot of saving America's judicial system and saving our rights as citizens and not having empathetic judges decide cases, but rather judges who are actually understanding the rule of law and what the Constitution and those laws are all about. And how to apply the facts to the law and the law to the facts. And adjudicate my case. I don't need some judge sitting up there feeling bad for my opponent because of their life circumstances or their condition. And short changing me and my opportunity to get fair treatment under the law. Crazy nonsense empathetic. I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently suggested "empathy" was code for judicial activism. Obama's full quote on the issue:
You know, Justice Roberts said he saw himself just as an umpire. But the issues that come before the court are not sport. They're life and death. And we need somebody who's got the heart to recogni-- the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young, teenaged mom; the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.
Earlier this week, the "Daily Show" mocked Republicans' aversion to empathetic judges. Watch:
According to spokesman Robert Gibbs, "the president is looking for somebody with a record of excellence, with a record of integrity, somebody who understand the rule of law, and somebody who understands how being a judge affects everyday lives."
According to ABC News, Obama has formalized his short list.