Appointing judges on the basis of their “empathy” in place of thorough understanding of and respect for the law, sound self-knowledge, humility and just plain humanitarianism is apparently not a new concept. Paul Moreno, at the History News Network, has written a frightening article titled When “Empathy” Goes Awry, in which he details the ironic – and sometimes tragic – ways in which empathy-based appointments had turned out. From Oliver Wendell Holmes who respected little except eugenics to William O. Douglas who was “rude, ice-cold, hot-tempered, ungrateful, foul-mouthed, self-absorbed, and devoured by ambition,” the article is a cautionary tale for these postmodern times.
And just to show that there is nothing new under the sun, borking by so-called progressives was alive and well long before Ted Kennedy. In particular, Moreno recounts the 1930 manhandling of Judge Parker:
Self-righteous progressives also abused many good judges whom they incorrectly believed did not meet their “empathy” standard. In 1930 Judge John J. Parker was effectively “borked” by New York Senator Robert F. Wagner.
Moreno’s concluding paragraph says it all:
We can hope that President Obama has better luck choosing justices by the standard of “empathy.” But it would be better still if he found some other standard.
Like, maybe, thorough understanding of and respect for the law, sound self-knowledge, humility and just plain humanitarianism…