Justices Are Emotional Creatures

Brooks: Don't worry about dispassion; it's just a myth
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2009 8:47 AM CDT
Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor smiles in front of President Obama.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – America’s legal system “is based on a useful falsehood,” writes David Brooks of the New York Times. It assumes that judges are objective, almost robotic, executors of law. They’re not. “In reality, decisions are made by imperfect minds in ambiguous circumstances.” The question isn’t whether Sonia Sotomayor will be a dispassionate justice. At issue is whether she uses her emotions and empathy well.

“People without emotions are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row,” Brooks argues. “Sonia Sotomayor will be a good justice if she can empathize with many types of people,” not just "one type, one ethnic group, or one social class." Like all judges, she must understand the "murky, flawed and semiprimitive nature of her own decision-making.”