GOP Attacks on 'Empathy' During Hearings' First Day

Republicans stake out a position against judicial 'empathy'
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 4:58 PM CDT
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor gives her opening statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – With Republicans unlikely to be able to block Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, it seems they’ve settled for drawing a stark contrast between President Obama’s philosophy of law and their own, writes Andrew Cohen for CBS News. During statements today, GOP senators repeatedly attacked Obama’s comments that “empathy” and “understanding people’s hopes and struggles” are essential qualities for a judge.

Another recurring Republican theme was that Sotomayor’s even-handed record as an appellate judge meant nothing in terms of how much judicial activism she’d indulge in on the Supreme Court, writes Tony Mauro for the National Law Journal. Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that the “restraint” of her lower-court appointments would disappear—though, Mauro contends, judges hardly stop observing precedent once they join the high court, and don’t switch to viewing the law as a blank slate.