Home - Senate Debate on Empathy
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This page has transcripts and video from the Senate debate on empathy. The debate was started by Barack Obama saying that empathy was one of his criteria for choosing a Supreme Court Justice. The debate heated up with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and continued with the selection of District/Circuit Court  Judges as well as the nomination of Elena Kagan. This debate continues. I've selected and organized hundreds of video clips and transcripts from this Senate debate on empathy.

See also Articles about Conservative Attacking Empathy

 

  George Lakoff is Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley and Author of the The Political Mind.  He says empathy is the foundation of progressive values and wrote this article about the attacks in Congress by conservatives on empathy.

Empathy, Sotomayor, and Democracy: The Conservative Stealth Strategy


References


Comments by Barack Obama on Empathy and the Courts.
  (click on image to play each video)

   2005-09-22 - Obama on Roberts   (1 of 90)
2006-01-26 - Barack Obama on Samuel Alito - Senate Debate on Empathy (2 of 90) Barack Obama as Senator talks about why he can not support Roberts for the Supreme Court. He says Roberts tends to side with the powerful. Implies he doesn't have empathy for the average citizen.
 
   2006-01-26 - Obama on Samuel Alito (2 of 90)
    2006-01-26 - Barack Obama on Samuel Alito - Senate Debate on Empathy (2 of 90)   Barack Obama as Senator talks about why he can not support Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. He says a justice needs a sense of empathy to deal with the 5% of very difficult cases. Implies Alito doesn't have this empathy.
   2007-07-17 - Obama at Planned Parenthood  (3 of 90)
    2007-07-17 - Barack Obama at Planned Parenthood - Senate Debate on Empathy (3 of 90)   Candidate Barack Obama says that if elected president, he will select a Supreme Court justice that has empathy.
2008-03-02 - Westerville, OH - Town Hall Meeting
At the Westerville OH, Town Hall Meeting, Obama says he will choose Supreme Court Judges with heart and empathy.  "What I want on the bench are people who have enough empathy, enough feeling for what ordinary people are going through."

Obama references, Brown v. Board of Education as an example of judges having empathy.

2008-08-16 - Saddleback Civil Forum and Supreme Court
Obama : Supreme Court Justices Talks about nominating Supreme Court Justices.
    2009-05-01 - Obama on David Souter retirement  (4 of 90)
    2009-05-01 - Barack Obama on David Souter Retirement - Senate Debate on Empathy (4 of 90)   After hearing that David Souter will retire from the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama holds a press conference and says empathy will be one of his criteria for choosing a new justice.
 


Discussions on Empathy by Senator

2009
 

   2009-05-03 - Arlen Specter - Meet The Press - Empathy (5 of 90)
But if you talk about empathy, you may be talking about something which is, which is broader. But we'll have to test the nominee on that. Listen, the job of the United States Senate is to ask firm, really tough questions to find out whether the nominee has an open mind, whether the nominee respects the supremacy of the Constitution, whether the nominee will look to Congress to establish public policy. And there are going to be some empathetic factors, but basically we're a nation with a rule of law.
   2009-05-05 - Mitch McConnell (6 of 90)
      As a candidate for President, he said that his criteria for a judicial nominee would be someone who would empathize with particular parties or particular groups. This viewpoint was evident again last week when, in describing a good nominee, the President seemed to stress empathy over and above a judge's role of applying the law without prejudice.

The problem with this philosophy is that it arises out of the misguided notion that the courts are simply an extension of the legislative branch rather than a check on it. Americans do not want judges to view any group or individual who walks into the courtroom as being more equal than any other group or individual. They expect someone who will apply the law equally to everyone, so everyone has a fair shake.
         
  2009-05-06 - Ted Poe (7 of 90)
        Also, does the President only want a politically correct judge or Justice that correctly judges the Constitution? It appears to me that the new Justice should be qualified as a constitutional scholar that believes in upholding the sanctity of the words of the Constitution, rather than someone that just has empathy or a social or political agenda they want impose on the whole Nation.
  2009-05-13 - Roland Burris (8 of 90)
      We must oppose jurists who would overreach, but we would be well served to find a candidate with the integrity to draw on his or her God-given sense of empathy and personal life experiences.
  2009-06-09 - Jon Kyl (9 of 90)
      Everybody is well aware of some of the factors this particular nominee has talked about and the President has talked about--the empathy, the background, the experience
in other matters.

 

x 2009-06-17 - Jeff Sessions (10 of 90)
 How can we uphold the rule of law if those who weigh the scales have the power to tip them one way or the other based on empathy, their feelings or their personal views? How can we curb the excess of Federal power if we allow our courts to step so far beyond the limits of their legitimate authority? How can the least among us depend on the law to deliver justice, to protect them, to steadfastly protect their liberties, if rulings are no longer objective and if a single judge has the power to place his or her empathy above the law and the evidence?
x 2009-06-17 - Richard Durbin (11 of 90)
      So the Senator from Alabama came here and said: We do not need judges with empathy. That word has been stretched in many different directions. But if empathy means we do not need judges who understand the reality of the workplace, if empathy means we would say to Lilly Ledbetter: Sorry, you missed it, girl, you had 6 months to file that lawsuit from the first act of discrimination, the first paycheck--you missed it, and you are out of luck--if empathy would say that is not a fair or just result,

I want judges with empathy. I want them to know the real world. I want them to know the practical impact of the decisions they make. I want them to follow the law. I want them to be fair in its administration. But I do not want them to sit high and mighty in their black robes so far above the real world that they could not see justice if it bit them. I think that is what empathy brings--someone who is at least in touch with this real world.
         
x   2009-06-17 - Patrick Leahy (12 of 90)
       When justice Brandies, one of the giants of the supreme court was nominated to the high court he had to overcome severe anti-Semitism, significant opposition. The commentary at the time was questions about the Jewish mind, how its operations are complicated by altruism. Does that sound a little bit like an attack on empathy? [laughter] of course, i would mention that the opposite of empathy is indifference. Do we really want that in a justice?
x  2009-06-18 - Whitehouse ACS panel (13 of 90)
      Central to the American legal tradition is the need for judges, and particularly Supreme Court Justices, with the good judgment to exercise discretion wisely. Right-wing critics of the administration have latched on to President Obama's description of that good judgment as "empathy." Even the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Sessions, recently suggested that President Obama's use of the word "empathy" indicates a belief "that a judge should use his or her personal feelings about a particular group or issue to decide a case."
( )   2009-06-23 - Gibbs  - (press secretary not of interest)
x 2009-06-23 - Mitch McConnell (14 of 90)
      Judge Sotomayor's writings offer a window into what she believes having empathy for certain groups means when it comes to judging, and I believe once Americans come to appreciate the real-world consequences of this view, they will find the empathy standard extremely troubling as a criterion for selecting men and women for the Federal bench.
 

 

x  2009-06-23 - Jeff Sessions (15 of 90)
He says he wants someone who will use empathy--empathy to certain groups to decide cases. That may sound nice, but empathy toward one is prejudice toward the other, is it not? There are always litigants on the other side, and they deserve to have their cases decided on the law. And whatever else empathy might be, it is not law. So I think empathy as a standard, preference as a standard is contrary to the judicial oath. This is what a judge declares when they take the office: I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me.
x   2009-06-23 - Bob Menendez (16 of 90)
      On top of that, Judge Sotomayor's personal background is rich with the joys and hardships that millions of American families share. Her record is proof that someone can be both an impartial arbiter of the law and still recognize how her decisions will affect people's everyday lives.

I think it says something that the worst her ideological opponents can accuse her of is being able to understand the perspective of a wide range of people whose cases will come before her.
         
x  2009-06-24 - Orrin Hatch (17 of 90)
      President Obama has already described his understanding of the power and role of judges in our system of government. He has said he will appoint judges who have empathy for certain groups and that personal empathy is an essential ingredient for making judicial decisions. Right off the bat, President Obama's vision of judges deciding cases based on their personal feelings and priorities is at odds with what most Americans believe. A recent national poll found that by more than three to one, Americans  reject the notion that judges may go beyond the law as written and take their personal views and feelings into account. ..

We have the separation of government power under which the legislative branch may employ empathy to make the law, but the judicial branch must impartially interpret and apply the law.
x  2009-06-24 - Sam Brownback (18 of 90)
      Judge Sotomayor has given speeches and written articles promoting judicial activism. The President who appointed her said judges should have ``the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom; the empathy to understand what it is like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old,'' and that difficult cases should be decided by ``what is in the Justice's heart.''

While I think it is admirable to have empathy, a Justice and a person who sits on the bench is to decide this based on the law. That is what they are to decide it upon, not an interpretation or rewriting of the law.
x  2009-07-07 - Jeff Sessions (19 of 90)
      What is empathy? Is this your personal feeling that you had a tough childhood or some prejudice that you have--you are a Protestant or a Catholic or your ethnicity or your race or some bias you brought with you to life and to the court? Is that what an empathy is? Well, it has no objective meaning, and that is why it is not a legal standard. The oath of ``impartiality'' to ``equal justice to the rich and the poor alike'' is violated when such things infect the decision making process.

 

Sotomayor Hearings Overview

   2009-07-13 - Day 1 - All - Senators Opening - Sotomayor Opening

2009-07-13 - Mitch McConnell (20 of 90)
      He has repeatedly emphasized that his ``criterion'' for a federal judge is their ability to ``empathize'' with certain groups. That is a great standard, if you are a member of one of those specific groups. It is not so great, though, if you are not. So it might be useful to consider some of the
groups who have found themselves on the short end of the ``empathy'' standard.
         
2009-07-13 - Jeff Sessions (21 of 90)
      I'm afraid our system will only be further corrupted as a result of President Obama's views that, in tough cases, the critical ingredient for a judge is the "depth and breadth of one's empathy," as well as "their broader vision of what America should be." Like the American people, I have watched this for a number of years, and I fear this "empathy standard" is another step down the road to a liberal activist, results-oriented, and relativistic world where:
• Laws lose their fixed meaning,
• Unelected judges set policy,
• Americans are seen as members of separate groups rather than simply Americans, and
• Where the constitutional limits on government power are ignored when politicians want to buy out private companies.
  2009-07-13 - Chuck Grassley (22 of 90)
      President Obama said that he would nominate judges based on their ability to "empathize" in general and with certain groups in particular. This "empathy" standard is troubling to me. In fact, I'm concerned that judging based on 'empathy" is really just legislating from the bench.

The Constitution requires that judges be free from personal politics, feelings and preferences. President Obama's "empathy" standard appears to encourage judges to make use of their personal politics, feelings and preferences. This is contrary to what most of us understand to be the role of the judiciary.

Judge Sotomayor, President Obama clearly believes you measure up to his "empathy" standard. That worries me. I've reviewed your record and have concerns about your judicial philosophy. For example, in one speech, you doubted that a judge could ever be truly impartial. In another speech, you argued it'd be a "disservice both to the law and society" for judges to disregard personal views shaped by one's "differences as women or men of color." In yet another speech, you proclaimed that the court of appeals is where "policy is made."
  2009-07-13 - Jon Kyl (23 of 90)
      Of course, every person should have empathy, and in certain situations, such as sentencing, it may not be wrong for judges to be empathetic. The problem arises when empathy and other biases or prejudices that are 'in the judge's heart' become 'the critical ingredient' to deciding cases. As Judge Paez explained, a judge's prejudices, biases, and passions should not be embraced—they must be 'set aside' so that a judge can render an impartial decision as required by the judicial oath and as parties before the court expect.
 2009-07-13 - Sheldon Whitehouse (24 of 90)
      if you have empathy for those people in this job, you are doing nothing wrong. It is far better to listen for those unheard voices, and to seek to understand their points of view, than to ignore them in favor of a particular ideology, or corporation, or just the status quo...

The courtroom can be the only sanctuary for the little guy when the forces of society are arrayed against him, when proper opinion and elected officialdom will lend him no ear. This is a correct, fitting, and intended function of the judiciary in our constitutional structure, and the empathy President Obama saw in you has a constitutionally proper place in that structure.

Judge Sotomayor, I believe your broad and balanced background and empathy prepare you well for this constitutional and proper judicial role. So again, I join my colleagues in welcoming you to the Committee and I look forward to your testimony.   
 
2009-07-13 - Tom Coburn (25 of 90)
Senator Obama referred to his empathy standard when he voted against Chief Justice Roberts. He stated, "The tough cases can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one broader perspective on how the world works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy."

I believe that standard is antithetical to the proper role of a judge. The American people expect our judges to treat all litigants equally, not to favor and not to enter the courtroom already prejudiced against one of the parties. That's why Lady Justice is always depicted blind and why Aristotle defined law as "reason free from passion."

We expect a judge to merely call balls and strikes? Maybe so, maybe not. But we certainly don't expect them to sympathize with one party over the other, and that's where empathy comes from.
2009-07-13 - Dick Durbin (26 of 90) 
  In the Safford v. -- United School District v. Redding, 13-year- old girl strip-searched at her school because of a false rumor that she was hiding ibuprofen pills. At the oral argument in April, several of the Supreme Court justices asked questions about the case that, unfortunately, revealed a stunning lack of empathy about the eighth grade victim.

One of the justices even suggested that being strip-searched was no different than changing clothes for gym class. Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped her eight male colleagues understand why the strip search of a 13-year-old girl was humiliating enough to violate her constitutional rights, a majority of the justice ruled that the school officials were immune from liability.

 

2009-07-14 - Day 2 - All

2009-07-14 - Sheldon Whitehouse (27 of 90)
      (on MSNBC) 
 2009-07-14 - Patrick Leahy (28 of 90)
(get into sympathies) 
 And then you said judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of the fairness and integrity based on reason of law. And I'll throw one more quote in there. It's what you told me that ultimately and completely, the law is what counts -- or the law is what controls.
So tell us, you've heard all of these charges and countercharges, the wise Latina and on and on. Here's your chance. You tell us -- you tell us what's going on here, Judge.

SOTOMAYOR: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain my remarks. No words I have ever spoken for written have received so much attention. (LAUGHTER)
 2009-07-14 - Jeff Sessions (29 of 90)
 (get into sympathies)
SOTOMAYOR: I believe my record of 17 years demonstrates fully that I do believe that law -- that judges must apply the law and not make the law. Whether I've agreed with a party or not, found them sympathetic or not, in every case I have decided, I have done what the law requires.

SESSIONS: But the statement was, "I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage, but continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate." That's exactly opposite of what you're saying, is it not?

         
 2009-07-14 - Russ Feingold (30 of 90)
      FEINGOLD: Let me go to something completely different. There's been a lot of talk about this concept of empathy in the context of your nomination. A judge's ability to feel empathy does not, of course, mean the judge should rule one way or another, as you well explained.

But I agree with President Obama that it's a good thing for our country for judges to understand the real-world implications of their decisions and the effects on regular Americans and to seek to understand both sides of an issue.
   2009-07-14 - Jon Kyl (31 of 90) Conservatives claim that Sotomayor renounced empathy in this exchange
      KYL: But my question is really very simple to you: Have you always been able to have a legal basis for the decisions that you have rendered and not have to rely upon some extra-legal concept, such as empathy or some other concept other than a legal interpretation or precedent?

SOTOMAYOR: Exactly, sir. We apply law to facts. We don't apply feelings to facts.


KYL: Right. Now, thank you for that. Let me go back to the beginning. I raised this issue about the president's interpretation, because he clearly is going to seek nominees to this court and other courts that he's comfortable with and that would imply who have some commonality with his view of the law in judging. It's a concept that I also disagree with.
 2009-07-14 - Chuck Schumer (32a of 90)
      SCHUMER: OK. Well, good. Let's turn to that record. I think your record shows extremely clearly that, even when you might have sympathy for the litigants in front of you, as a judge, your fidelity is first and foremost to the rule of law, because, as you know, in the courtroom of a judge who ruled based on empathy, not law, one would expect that the most sympathetic plaintiffs would always win, but that's clearly not the case in your courtroom.
   2009-07-14 - Chuck Schumer (32b of 90)
      SCHUMER: Even though, obviously, you wouldn't have much sympathy or empathy for this officer or his actions. Is that correct?

SOTOMAYOR: I don't think anyone has sympathy for what was undisputedly a racist statement, but the First Amendment commands that we respect people's rights to engage in hateful speech.

SCHUMER: Right. Now, I'm just going to go to a group of cases here rather than one individual case. We could go -- we could go -- we could do this all day long where sympathy, empathy would be on one side, but you found rule of law on the other side and you sided with rule of law.



2009-07-15 - Day 3 - All

 2009-07-15 - Charles Grassley (33 of 90)
 (in interview)
. SUPREME COURT AND THE PRESIDENT'S EMPHASIS ON APPOINTING SOMEONE BASED ON EMPATHY SIGNALS TO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY THAT SHE IS A PERSON WHO MIGHT...
 2009-07-15 - Arlen Specter (34 of 90)
      A lot has been made of the issue of empathy, but that characteristic is not exactly out of place in judicial determinations. We've come a long way on the expansion of constitutional rights.

Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous statement that the life of the law is experience, not logic.
Justice Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut talked about changing values.

But it was a very, very thorough hearing. I spent beyond the hearing days in three long sessions, five hours with Judge Bork. So it was his own approach to the law which resulted there. But you had an evolution of constitutional law, which I think puts empathy in a -- in an OK status, in an OK category.
         
 2009-07-15 - Orrin Hatch (35 of 90)
      Hatch: OKAY. PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH APPOINTED YOU TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN 1992. I WAS HERE. ABOUT A YEAR EARLIER, HE NOMINATED CLARENCE THOMAS TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT, WHO, LIKE YOU, WAS A U.S. CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE. PRESIDENT BUSH DESCRIBED HIM AS QUOTE, DELIGHTFUL AND WARM, INTELLIGENT PERSON, WHO HAS GREAT EMPATHY, UNQUOTE. PRESIDENT BUSH THEN SAID THAT JUDGE THOMAS WOULD DECIDE CASES FAIRLY, QUOTE, AS THE FACTS AND THE LAW REQUIRE. IN OTHER WORDS, HE DREW A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE HUMAN QUALITY OF EMPATHY AND THE JUDICIAL QUALITY OR DUTY, EXCUSE ME, OF IMPARTIALITY. THIS IS OBVIOUSLY VERY DIFFERENT FROM THEN SAYING THAT A JUDGE'S PERSONAL EMPATHY IS AN ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT FOR DECIDING CASES. WHICH OF THESE IS CLOSER TO YOUR OWN VIEW, DISTINGUISHING HUMAN EMPATHY FROM JUDICIAL IMPARTIALITY OR MIXING THEM TOGETHER SO THAT EMPATHY BECOMES PART OF THE JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING PROCESS?

Sotomayor: PRESIDENTS HAVE USED THE WORD EMPATHY AND EACH OF THEM HAS GIVEN IT THEIR DIFFERENT MEANING. AND I CAN'T SPEAK FOR THEIR CHOICE OF THE WORD OR MAKE A CHOICE BETWEEN WHAT MEANING IS CLOSER TO WHAT I BELIEVE OR NOT.

 

2009-07-16 - Day 4 - All

 2009-07-16 - Jon Kyl (36 of 90)
To me, there is one place where empathy does play a role in a judge's decisions, and I can think of only this one situation, and it's at the time of sentencing, when at least some states and the federal government now allows persons who are not parties before the court to make statements before the court at the time of sentencing.

And that is a time where, to the extent there is discretion with respect to sentencing a judge can take into account what people tell him about the victim, about the defendant, about other matters, and empathy cannot help but play a role in that.

Could you just remind us from your perspective of having worked for victims' rights now why it is important for judges to consider the point of view of victims in this particular situation in -- in sentencing statements or in the other situations in which it's appropriate for a victim or a victim's advocate to make an appearance in a given case?
  2009-07-16 - Mr. Henderson (37 of 90)
      This afternoon I will briefly address four of the points that have figured in the debate about Judge Sotomayor's nomination:
  •  first, her qualifications for serving on the nation's highest court;
  • second, her personal background and her empathy for others who have had to work hard to succeed;
  • third, her role in the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel in the case of Ricci vs. DeStefano;
  • and fourth, her past membership on the board of one of the Leadership Conference's member organizations, the Puerto Rico Legal Defense and Education Fund.
         
 2009-07-16 - Lt. Vagus (38 of 90)
       

 

  (are others to sort)

 


 

Senate Floor Debate 
2009-07-20 - Mitch McConnell (46 of 90)
 Empathy Standard
 ... AND THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONE'S EMPATHY. WHAT'S COME TO BE KNOWN AS "THE...
 ... WHAT'S COME TO BE KNOWN AS "THE EMPATHY STANDARD." SO OVER THE COURSE OF THE...
... REPEATEDLY THROUGHOUT THIS DEBATE, EMPATHY IS A VERY GOOD QUALITY IN ITSELF, AND...
... BUT WHEN IT COMES TO JUDGING, EMPATHY IS ONLY GOOD IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO...
... GROUP THAT THE JUDGE IN QUESTION HAS EMPATHY FOR. IN THOSE CASES, IT'S THE JUDGE,...
... INTRODUCTION OF NEW STANDARD -- THE EMPATHY STANDARD -- THE EMPATHY STANDARD --...
.. -- THE EMPATHY STANDARD -- THE EMPATHY STANDARD -- FORCES US TO REEVALUATE...
 ... ENVIRONMENT? I BELIEVE IT IS. IF EMPATHY IS THE NEW STANDARD, THEN THE BURDEN IS...
 ... THEY SHOULD. UNFORTUNATELY THE NEW EMPATHY STANDARD REQUIRES A MEASURE OF...
... THIS IS THE REAL-WORLD EFFECT OF THE EMPATHY STANDARD. IF THE JUDGE HAS EMPATHY FOR...
 ... EMPATHY STANDARD. IF THE JUDGE HAS EMPATHY FOR YOU, GREAT. BUT IF SHE HAS IT FOR...



2009-07-28 - Day 5 - Committee Approves Sotomayor (couldn't find full transcripts)

2009-07-28 - Orin Hatch (39 of 90)
... personal values, perspectives and empathy would lead him to results that senator...
 2009-07-28 - Chuck Grassley (40 of 90)
      President Obama clearly believes Judge Sotomayor measures up to his “empathy” standard, which encourages judges to make use of their personal politics, feelings and preferences. This radical “empathy” standard stands in stark opposition to what most of us understand to be the proper role of the judiciary. To her credit, at the hearing Judge Sotomayor repudiated President Obama’s “empathy” standard. But Judge Sotomayor’s record, both in and outside of the courtroom, reveal to me a judicial philosophy that bestows a pivotal role to personal preferences and beliefs in her judicial method.
         
2009-07-28 - Lindsey Graham (41 of 90)
     

than she can understand mine and this empathy idea makes us all kind of dr. phils. i...

... character, so when i rejected the empathy heart standard and went back to what...

  2009-07-28 - John Cornyn (42 of 90)
      ... and losers based on some subjective empathy standard or whatever is in the judge's...
  2009-07-28 - Dick Durbin (43 of 90)
      ... lot has been said about the issue of empathy and this question of the wise latina...

 

 2009-07-28 - Sheldon Whitehouse (44 of 90)
      Mr. Chairman I think we are witness here to an effort to define justice in America in alignment with a particular point of view. My colleagues are entitled to their point of view. They are entitled to their view about guns, they are entitled to their point of view about property rights, they are entitled to their point of view about other issues.

What I resist is any effort to define that point of view as a judicial norm against which any other point of view is to be seen as an aberration, as "biases and prejudices," to use one quotation. In this case, I further believe that their definition of justice in America - their definition - is just plain wrong both as history and as justice. In particular I do not wish to force, as the new judicial norm, the sort of judges who, to paraphrase a recent article on the Supreme Court "in every major case vote for the corporation against the individual, for the government against the criminal defendant, and for the executive branch against the legislature." I do not wish judges without empathy, who will ignore the long and proud history of the courtroom, as the last stand for many beleaguered Americans where they can get fearless justice even when all of the forces of politics, of proper opinion, and of corporate power may be arrayed against them - with judges willing to provide that fearless justice, even if it completely upsets the status quo.
  2009-07-28 - Arlen Specter (45 of 90)
 

... and then the business of empathy. there is no doubt about the history...

... in our country responding to empathy empathy. the life of the law section...

... our country responding to empathy empathy. the life of the law section...


Senate Floor Debate

 2009-07-30 - Lamar Alexander (47 of 90) Sotomayor rejected
 Courts were never intended to be political bodies composed of judges ``on your side'' who would reliably tilt your way in controversial cases. Courts are supposed to do just the opposite: decide difficult cases with impartiality. The oath Judge Sotomayor has taken twice and will take again when she is sworn in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court says it best:
..... I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich and ..... I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me
 ..... under the Constitution and laws of the United States.
During her confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor expressly rejected then-Senator Obama's view that in a certain percentage of judicial decisions, ``the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in a judge's heart ..... and [in] the depth and breadth of one's empathy.'' In answer to a question from Senator Kyl, she said in her confirmation hearing:
         
 2009-08-03 - Tom Udall  (48 of 90)
      a better clip
 I rise today to talk about Judge Sotomayor's experience, and I also want to talk about empathy.  In the period since President Obama nominated Sotomayor, some of her opponents have done their best to give empathy a bad name. I think that is a shame. It would be sad for us to confirm Sonia Sotomayor but allow her empathy to be discredited as a human emotion and a judicial asset.

During his confirmation hearings, Clarence Thomas said:  What I bring to this Court, I believe, is an understanding and the ability to stand in the shoes of other people across a broad spectrum of this country.

Justice Thomas's description of empathy captures one thing Sotomayor would bring to this Court: a diversity of experience and the ability to stand in the shoes of other people.

During her opening statement before the Judiciary Committee, Judge Sotomayor talked about her experience as a prosecutor in New York for legendary district attorney Bob Morgenthau. She said:

 


2009-08-04 - Debate on Senate Floor
 

2009-08-04 - Jeff Sessions on Fox Cavout (49 of 90)
Jeff Sessions says 'Obama wants judges with empathy'. Empathy is a bias. A favorable opinion for one side of a lawsuit. If you favor one then you have a bias against the other. It goes against all we've be taught........'


 

 2009-08-04 - Mitch McConnell (50 of 90)
I will not support this nomination, as I have already said, is because I cannot support the so-called empathy standard upon which Judge Sotomayor was selected and to which she, herself, has subscribed in her writings and rulings.

As I have said, the empathy standard is a very fine quality. And I have no doubt that Senator Obama, now President Obama, had very good intentions when he made the case for a so-called empathy standard as a Senator, a candidate, and now as President. But when it comes to judging--when it comes to judging--empathy is only good if you are lucky enough to be the person or group for whom the judge in question has empathy. In those cases, it is the judge, not the law, which determines the outcome.
That is a dangerous road to go down if you believe, as I do, in a nation not of men but of laws.
 2009-08-04 - Jeff Sessions (51 of 90)
      Our confirmation process began with the President indicating that empathy was a standard that he believes should be applied to selecting judges. There is some disagreement about that. I am one of those who do not believe that is a legal standard. It is a kind of standard that is closer to a political standard, and we need to be careful that politics do not infect the judiciary.
 
         
 2009-08-04 Bob Menendez (52 of 90)
      With all due respect to my colleagues who plan to vote against this nominee, what speaks volumes about Judge Sotomayor's temperament, what speaks volumes about her experience, what speaks volumes about her record is that the worst--the very worst--her opponents can accuse her of is an accident of geography that gave her the unique ability to see the world from the street view, from the cheap seats.
 
         
    2009-08-04 - Sheldon Whitehouse (53a of 90)
      Senator Specter said it well at the committee vote. ``There is nothing wrong with a little ethnic pride and a desire to encourage her law student audience.'' Maybe we should try to put ourselves in their shoes. Perhaps, with a little empathy ourselves, it might be easier to understand how a profession and a judiciary dominated by White males might look to those young law students, and how important a little encouragement to them might be that their experiences might give them something valuable to contribute; that they are not the exception; that they are welcome and fully a part of our society, and that they bring something valuable not only to the profession but, one day, perhaps, even to the judiciary.

 
  2009-08-04 - Sheldon Whitehouse (53b of 90)
      In sum, my Republican colleagues' criticisms of Judge Sotomayor appear to be grounded in conservative political idealogy rather than legitimate concern that Judge Sotomayor is not fit to serve on the Supreme Court, grounded in a desire for more of the rightwing Justices who in recent years have filled out a conservative wing on the Supreme Court. That wing has marched the Court deliberately to the right in the last few years, completely discrediting the Republican claim that judges are mere ``umpires.''
         
    2009-08-04 - Orin Hatch  (54 of 90)
      President Obama has described the kind of judge he intends to appoint. As a Senator, he said that judges decide cases based on their ``deepest values ..... core concerns ..... broader perspectives ..... and the depth and breadth of [their] empathy.'' As a presidential candidate, he pledged to [Page: S8746] appoint judges who indeed have empathy for certain groups. And as President, he has said that a judge's personal empathy is an essential ingredient in judicial decisions.

This standard is seriously out of sync with mainstream America. By more than 3 to 1 Americans believe that judges should decide cases based on the law as written, rather than on their own sense of fairness or justice. The American people reject President Obama's standard for the kind of judge we need on the Federal bench.

At the Judiciary Committee hearing, Judge Sotomayor said that her judicial philosophy is simply fidelity to the law. While some of my Democratic committee colleagues said that they wanted to avoid slogans, codewords, and euphemistic phrases, they apparently accepted this one at face value. Unfortunately, it begs rather than answers the important questions.
 2009-08-04 - James Inhofe (55 of 90)
       
 
 2009-08-04 - Sherrod Brown (56 of 90)
Current and former Supreme Court Justices from across the ideological spectrum have described how their personal experiences informed their judicial perspective. Judge Sandra Day O'Connor, nominated by President Reagan, once said: We're all creatures of our upbringing. We bring whatever we are as people to a job like the Supreme Court. We have our life experiences.

Empathy, perhaps?
Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative nominated by President Bush, said during his confirmation hearings: When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of the ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

Empathy, perhaps?
 2009-08-04 - Charles Grassley (57 of 90)
Justice is blind. Empathy is not. Empathetic judges take off the blindfolds and look at the party instead of merely weighing the evidence in light of what the law is. Empathetic judges put their thumbs on the scales of justice, altering the balance that is delicately crafted by the law. Empathetic judges exceed their role as part of the judicial branch and improperly take extraneous, nonlegal factors into consideration. That is why President Obama's judicial standard of empathy is problematic,
and why we should be cautious in deferring to his choices for the judicial branch.
 2009-08-04 - Patrick Leahy (58 of 90)
  I also believe she will have an understanding of the real world impact of the Supreme Court's decisions, which will be a welcome addition. When she was designated by the President, Judge Sotomayor said: The wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I hear. It has helped me to understand, respect and respond to the concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me, as well as the views of my colleagues on the bench. I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and government.

 

 


2009-08-05 - Debate on Senate Floor

 
 2009-08-05 - Patrick Leahy (59 of 90)
So what I bring to this Court, I believe, is an understanding and the ability to stand in the shoes of other people across a broad spectrum of this country. That is the definition of empathy. That nominee, of course, was Clarence Thomas. Indeed, when President George H.W. Bush nominated Justice Thomas to the Supreme Court, he touted him as: A delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor.

Let me cite one example of a decision by Justice Thomas that I expect was informed by his experience. In Virginia v. Black, the Supreme Court, in 2003, held that Virginia's statute against cross burning, done with an attempt to intimidate, was constitutional. However, at the same time, the Court's decision also rejected another provision in that statute. Justice Thomas wrote a heartfelt opinion, where he stated he would have gone even further.
 2009-08-05 - Amy Klobuchar (60 of 90)
      I have to say, I woke up this morning to the radio on my clock radio and heard one of my colleagues who decided he was not going to support her, in his words, because of the ``empathy standard.''

I kind of put the pillow over my head. I thought: He must not have been sitting in the hearing because she was specifically asked by one of the other Senators about how she views the cases. They specifically asked her if she agreed with President Obama when he said: You should use your heart as well as the law. She said: Actually, I do not agree with that. I look at the law and I look at the facts.
         
 2009-08-05 - John Cornyn (61 of 90)
      As I said, notwithstanding her earlier statements, I agree with that statement she made at the hearing. I believe both Republicans and Democrats were satisfied with that statement as well. We agreed that ``empathy'' or ``what's in a person's heart''--to borrow a phrase from then-Senator Obama--should not influence the decisions of a judge. I think we were all a little surprised when Judge Sotomayor, at the hearing, rejected President Obama's standard. She said:

I wouldn't approach the issue of judging the way the President does. ..... Judges can't rely on what's in their heart. They don't determine the law. Congress makes the law. The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases--it is the law. I agree with that statement, and indeed Republicans and Democrats alike appeared to embrace that statement of an appropriate judicial philosophy. No one defended the statement that then-Senator Obama made with regard to empathy or what is in a person's heart. I was encouraged to see that.
   2009-08-05 - Pat Roberts (62 of 90)
      Thus the entrance of the ``empathy'' issue to this debate. I respectfully disagree with now-President Obama.

Judges must decide all cases in adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction. It does not mean if they do that they do not have empathy. I agree--and I think everybody would agree--everybody on the Supreme Court has empathy. But the role of a judge is not to rule based on his or her own personal judgments but to adhere to the laws as they are written.
    2009-08-05 - Roger Wicker (63 of 90)
      When discussing the qualifications he would look for in replacing Justice Souter, President Obama said:

I view the quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's homes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.

Empathy is a great personal virtue, but there is a difference between empathy as a person and empathy as a judge. Judges should use the law and the law only, not their personal experiences or personal view or empathy. Personal biases and empathy have no place in reaching a just conclusion under the law. Ricci is an example of where Judge Sotomayor clearly failed this important test.
  2009-08-05 - Charles Schumer (64 of 90)
      I can go on. Judge Sotomayor voted to deny the victims of TWA flight 800 crash a more generous recovery because that was ``clearly a legislative policy choice, which should not be made by the courts.'' If you have empathy, you certainly are going to decide with the victims. I met some of their families. She did not. The law did not allow her.
 
 2009-08-05 - Jon Kyl (65 of 90)
  Moreover, I appreciate her many declarations during the hearing that judges must decide cases solely on the basis of the facts and the law; and especially her disagreement with the President's erroneous, I believe, formulations that, in the hard cases, a judge should rely on empathy and what is in his or her heart.

 



2009-08-06 - Debate on Senate Floor

 
 2009-08-06 - Dick Durbin  (66 of 90)
The last issue I would like to address is that word ``empathy.'' Judge Sotomayor's critics have twisted and tortured this word in an effort to discredit her and raise doubts about her objectivity. Empathy is simply the ability to see another person's point of view. It is the ability to put yourself in their shoes. That is it. It doesn't mean exercising bias or favoring a particular side. The judge's critics are wrong to conflate these concepts. I believe, and President Obama believes, that Judge Sotomayor's life experience--from her days growing up in public housing, to her service as a high-powered lawyer representing large corporations--will give her a unique ability to understand the interests of all the parties that come before her for decisions of the Supreme Court. It gives her an ability to understand different perspectives and points of view. That is what empathy is all about.
 2009-08-06 - George Voinovich (67 of 90)
      I am comforted by Judge Sotomayor's express rejection of then-Senator Obama's view that in a certain percentage of judicial decisions ``the critical ingredient is supplied by what's in the judge's heart and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.'' In answer to a question from Senator Kyl, Judge Sotomayor said:

I can only explain what I think judges should do, which is judges can't rely on what's in their heart. They don't determine the law. Congress makes the laws. The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases, it's the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge.
 
         
2009-08-06 - Barbara Boxer (68 of 90)
      She doesn't directly mention empathy, but says Sotomayor will bring new perspective and gives the example of the case of the13 year old girl that was strip searched in school. Male justices didn't have a problem with this, but Justice Ginsberg did. Boxer implies the males didn't empathize with the 13 year old girl and Sotomayor would.
  2009-08-06 - Charles Grassley  (69 of 90)
      When then-Senator Obama voted against now-Chief Justice Roberts, he spoke from his desk over there about how a judge needed to have, in his words, ``empathy'' to decide the hard cases. He said:

That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspective on how the world works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy....... in these difficult cases the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.

In another speech, President Obama further elaborated on this empathy standard:

In those 5 percent of cases, what you've got to look at is what is in the Justice's heart. What's their broader vision of what America should be ..... We need somebody who's got the heart--the empathy--to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage 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'll be selecting my judges.
 
  2009-08-06 - Jeff Sessions (70 of 90)
      The debate over Judge Sotomayor's nomination began with President Obama's radical new vision for America's court system. According to the President, all nominees to the Federal bench would now have to meet an ``empathy standard.'' This standard requires judges to reach their most difficult and important decisions through the ``depth and breadth of [their] empathy'' and ``their broader vision of what America should be.'' This is a stunning ideology. It turns law into politics. The President of
the United States is breaking with centuries of American legal tradition to enter a new era where a judge's personal feelings about a case are as important as the Constitution itself.
2009-08-06 - Patrick Leahy (71 of 90)
      Some critics have attacked President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor by contending he picked her for the Supreme Court to substitute empathy for the rule of law. These critics are wrong about the President; they are wrong about Sonia Sotomayor.
 
2009-08-06 - Mitch McConnell (72 of 90)
President Obama asked himself a different question when he was looking for a nominee. The question he asked is whether that person has the ability to empathize with certain groups. And as I have said, empathy is a fine quality. But in the courtroom, it is only good if a judge has it for you. What if you are the other guy? When he walks out of the courthouse, he can say he received his day in court. He can say he received a hearing. But he can't say he received justice.

At her hearings Judge Sotomayor was quick and even eager to repudiate the so-called empathy standard. But her writings reflect strong sympathy for it. Indeed, they reflect a belief not just that impartiality is not possible, but that it is not even worth the effort.
 
 



Post Sotomayor

Judge David Hamilton Nomination for Appeals Court - source?
See full size image  According to Hamilton,
"Empathy is the ability to understand the world from another person's point of view,"

"A judge needs to empathize with all parties in the case - plaintiff and defendant, crime victim and accused defendant - so that the judge can better understand how the parties came to be before the court and how legal rules affect those parties and others in similar situations."

 2009-09-17 - Jeff Sessions on Judge Hamilton (73 of 90)
Sessions gives his usual attack on empathy.
This time in relationship to the nomination of Judge Hamilton.
 2009-09-29 - Jeff Sessions on Viken (74 of 90)
      He stated that he believes he fits President Obama's standard for the types of judges he will nominate to the Federal courts; that is, he meets the President's ``empathy standard....
Whatever the empathy standard is, it is not law, and we have courts of law in this country. Whenever a judge employs his personal beliefs, biases, or experiences to make a decision that favors one party, is it not true that he necessarily has, therefore, disfavored the other party as a result of his personal beliefs and biases? For every litigant who benefits from the judge's so-called empathy, there is a litigant who loses not on the basis of law but because the judge did not identify with them.
(note: version 2 available with better quality)
         
  2009-xx-xx - Judge Viken Committee Questionnaire
        Q. What role do you believe that empathy should play in a judge’s consideration of a case?
A. Response: A judge's consideration of a case must always be governed by impartiality, evenhandedness, attention to facts presented by the parties, and respect for established law. Empathy is a personal characteristic which may assist a judge in analyzing the human circumstances which bring people before the court. But the law and not the personal experiences of jurists is the path to justice in considering each case
         
  2009-10-27 - Jeff Sessions on Judge Irene Cornelia Berger - sort 
She indicated in those answers outright that she did not agree with the empathy standard President Obama has used, saying: A judge should apply the law to the facts of a case without being influenced by sympathy or empathy. She further stated that it is never proper for a judge to indulge his or her own sense of empathy in deciding what the law means. I wholeheartedly agree and am pleased to be able to support her nomination.
         
2009-10-27 - Jeff Sessions on Judge Hamilton - sort 
       Instead of embracing the constitutional standard of jurisprudence, Judge Hamilton has embraced this empathy standard, this feeling standard. Whatever that is, it is not law. It is not a legal standard. He has said that he believes a judge will ``reach different decisions from time to time ..... taking into account what happened and its effect on both parties, what are the practical consequences.'' Judge Hamilton also appears to have embraced the idea of a living Constitution.
         
2009-11-09 - Jeff Sessions on Judge Honeywell - sort    Jeff Session
      Empathy does not play role in my consideration of cases. Presently, I decide cases by applying the law to the facts of the cases pending before me. If confirmed by the Senate to serve as a District Court judge, I will decide cases in the same manner...
Instead of embracing the constitutional standard of jurisprudence, Judge Hamilton has embraced this `empathy' standard, this `feeling' standard. Whatever that is, it is not law. It is not a legal standard,''
 
   
   2009-11-18 - MarLandrieu on HealthCare - sort 
        ... BECAUSE OF HIS COMPASSION AND HIS GREAT EMPATHY, I GUESS DEVELOPED OVER A LIFETIME OF CARING...
         
2009-11-18 - Tom Coburn on Nomination of Judge Hamilton - sort 
         c-spanvideo.org
 c-spanvideo
I was even more disturbed by Judge Hamilton's answers to my written questions following his hearing. In his responses, Judge Hamilton embraced President Obama's empathy standard, writing that empathy was ``important in fulfilling [the judicial] oath.'' As a matter of fact, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor cited just the opposite. What she said was that she looks at facts, not empathy. She rejected the empathy standard.
2009-11-12 - Jeff Sessions at 2009 Federalist Society
      Jeff Sessions, Pt. 1
Jeff Sessions, Pt. 2
Jeff Sessions, Pt. 3
Jeff Sessions, Pt. 4

 ... Is to be found in president obama's so-called empathy standard, a standard he has reaffirmed repeatedly...
... For judges is the depth and breadth of their empathy, as well as their comical, broader vision...
... Law of the land. Instead, each court allowing empathy to be, to control, becomes a constitutional...
... To achieve their desired outcome. Intro, the empathy standard is a politically new but carefully...
... Obama proudly announced he selected using the empathy criteria, in her speeches she repeatedly said...
... On the scales. And this is the fatal flaw of empathy. Empathy for one party can only be prejudiced...
.. Scales. And this is the fatal flaw of empathy. Empathy for one party can only be prejudiced against...
... Law? So if we follow the road paved by the empathy standard, if we abandoned the legacy of objective...
.. Her activist record and prior statements and empathy standard announced by the president who selected...
 ... Politics. Who put the evidence before their empathy, and to put what the constitution says before..


 

2010

   2010-02-09 - Jeff Sessions on Judge Greenaway   (- sort-d) 
As for Judge Greenaway, he, like many of President Obama's nominees, I am pleased to say, has openly rejected the empathy standard. In his response to a follow-up question, Judge Greenaway stated this about the controversial empathy standard: Empathy cannot play a role in a judge's consideration of a case or in determining what the law means. I have told lawyers who appear before me that as a human being, I may have empathy for their client, but as a judge, I have none because that is not my job. The pure exercise of empathy in decision making would lead to unsound and inconsistent decisions.
2010-04-16 - Goodwin Liu - Professor Goodwin Liu testified about his nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  (- sort)
   

 

  Q: Do you believe that it is ever appropriate for judges to indulge their own subjective
sense of empathy in determining what the Constitution and the laws mean? If so,
under what circumstances?

A: To the extent that empathy means an ability to understand a claim from another person’s point of view, I think it can help a judge to appreciate the arguments on all sides of a case and to ensure that the litigants’ claims have been fully heard. However, to the extent that empathy causes a judge to be biased or prejudiced or to identify with a particular litigant or outcome, it is inappropriate and must have no role in
judicial determinations of what the Constitution and the laws mean.
         


Nomination of Elena Kagan

  2010-05-10 - Obama Nomination of Elena Kagan
         (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
      But while Elena had a brilliant career in academia, her passion for the law is anything but academic.  , “behind law there are stories -- stories of people’s lives as shaped by the law, stories of people’s lives as might be changed by the law…” That understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career
 2010-05-07 - Jeff Sessions - Americans look for Supreme Court (- sort-d) 
        Americans look for Supreme Court to restrain federal power, not expand it  
When the president nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the court last May, he said he wanted a justice who would decide cases based on her sense of empathy. But the empathy standard was soon rejected by the American people for what it was: license for unaccountable, lifetime-appointed judges to impose their political and social preferences from the bench. Despite widespread repudiation of the empathy standard -- including an explicit rejection from Sotomayor -- the president has not retreated from this view. Instead, he has searched for new ways to describe the same flawed idea.  President Obama said recently that his court nominee must have "a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people." This is nothing more than another thinly veiled attempt to justify judicial activism.
2010-05-11 - Sen. Jon Kyl Interview  (- sort-d)  towards end section
Fox - Greta Susteren - Supreme Battle Looms
Obama SCOTUS pick Elena Kagan may have rough road in confirmation

Now, she has said some things in connection with her clerkship with Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Court that could lead one to believe that she has a standard somewhat similar to the Justice Sotomayor language about empathy for the downtrodden and the disadvantaged and that a Justice's job is to try to protect them. That we will want to inquire about because, obviously, you want justice for all, and that may or may not mean protecting someone who is disadvantaged.
2010-05-11 - Sen. Jeff Sessions Interview   (- sort-d) 
Fox - Greta Susteren S - Supreme Battle Looms
There is afoot a philosophy of judging that I think is dangerous to the constitution. It suggests that a judge can consider evolving circumstances, things outside the constitution to redefine it's meaning.
 
2010-05-10 - Sen. Barasso - Ready to Question Kagan    (- sort-d) 

Fox - Republican senator on concerns with Supreme Court
empathy found at 1:03
that the feeling is where which he just brought up those what President Obama said in the past about. Judges needing to have empathy . When they look at the

 

2010-05-14 - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy talks about Empathy
   

  Q: Can Empathy be perfectly excised from the Judiciary?
A: Anthony - No,... If lack of empathy means to close your eyes to the consequences of the laws decree, that's just silly. We supervise the criminal system. Our sentences are 8 times longer than sentences in England and Western Europe.  Winston Churchill said your society will be judged by how you treat the least deserving of your citizens. Of course empathy has a role.... You certainly formulate principles without being unaware of where those principles will take you and what their consequences will be in human terms... If cost is a way to activate human compassion, I'll take it.....

Q: One last empathy question if I may, does it ever worry you that empathy, while it's a necessary component of jurisprudence, could swing to far to the other side?
A: Of course, I tried to indicate,  if I feel so sad about this I'm going to change the law, no, the law has to have a stability... but as I tried to indicate, maybe not to well, we have to be aware of the consequences of our legal principles...

2010-05-16 - Sessions - Kagan Road to the High Court   (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
Fox at 2:15
Sen. Jeff Sessions on Supreme Court nominee's path to confirmation
And so we have within the law schools. Some activists philosophies that are out there that suggest judges allow their empathy as President Obama said.
2010-05-16 - Mitch McConnell - Kagan     (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/293544-1&start=1233
The administration has nominated one of its own to a lifetime position on the country's highest court. We need to be convinced that Ms. Kagan is committed to the principle that the first amendment is not, as she put it, just some ``unfortunate,'' impediment to the government's power to regulate. It applies to groups for whom Ms. Kagan and the administration might not have empathy. And it applies to speech they might not like.

 

   
         
  2010-06-15 - Chuck Grassley
 (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
      Moreover, President Obama's standard for picking judicial nominees is one that places a premium on a judge's empathy for certain individuals or groups rather than on an even-handed reading of the law...

Thus, it is safe to assume that the President was true to his promise and picked someone who embodied his empathy standard.

2010-06-21 - Jeff Sessions 

        (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/294160-1&start=9750
      ONE'S -- THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONE'S EMPATHY." THE CRITICAL AGREEMENT IS SUPPLIED... 2:42

2010-06-23 - Sherrod Brown - try empathy

(TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin) *
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/294208-1&start=2404
I wonder sometimes if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are voting no every time we try to bring this up, if they know anybody who lost a job, if they know anybody who lost insurance, if they know anybody who lost a home. I plead with them, I ask them, the people who have voted no, to try some empathy. Try to imagine you are a father or a mother and you have lost a job, lost your insurance. You have a sick child. You are borrowing money. You are trying every week to find a job, and you are three payments behind on your home. You have to sit down at dinner one night--a pretty inadequate dinner because you are stretching every cent you have--and you have to explain to your son and daughter, 10- and 12-year-olds, that they will have to move out of their room, out of the house.
   

2010-06-24 - Orrin Hatch 

        (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/294227-1&start=3884
      That sounds a lot like President Obama, who said as a Senator that judges decide cases based on their own deepest values, core concerns, the depth and breadth of their empathy, and what is in their heart. If that is too results oriented, Ms. Kagan wrote, so be it.

 

         

 

Kagan Hearings

   
         
   
         
   
         

2010-07-12 - Richard J. 'Dick' Durbin - U.S. Senator, D IL U.S. Senate

      . JUSTICE MARSHALL'S PIONEERING WORK ON CIVIL RIGHTS AS AN EXAMPLE OF EMPATHY, A WORD WHICH UNFORTUNATELY HAS TAKEN A NEGATIVE CONNOTATION BY SOME...
 
      ... DAUGHTER. SHE HAS ALREADY LOST HER HOME. I KNOW EMPATHY IS IN SHORT SUPPLY IN THIS WORLD...
  2010-07-12 - Richard J. 'Dick' Durbin - U.S. Senator, D IL U.S. Senate
      .. PIONEERING WORK ON CIVIL RIGHTS AS AN EXAMPLE OF EMPATHY, A WORD WHICH UNFORTUNATELY HAS TAKEN...

2010-07-14 - Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate

      ... -- AND CAN'T BE CORRUPTED BY FRIENDSHIP, EMPATHY OR BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE PERSON WHO...
 

2010-07-19 - Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate

      ... PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS SAID HE WANTS JUDGES WITH EMPATHY. I DON'T KNOW WHAT EMPATHY IS. I DO NOT -- THAT IS NOT A LEGAL...
   
         
 

2010-07-28 - Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate

      ... WORKS AND THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONE'S EMPATHY." CLOSE QUOTE. THAT'S WHAT PRESIDENT...
WORKS? AND THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONE'S EMPATHY? THAT'S WHAT A JUDGE SHOULD DO? NOT...
 

2010-07-29 - Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate

      .. A JUDGE, HE WANTS TO KNOW IF THEY HAVE EMPATHY. EMPATHY FOR WHO? WHICH PARTY DOES HE HAVE EMPATHY FOR? HE WANTS A JUDGE WHO WILL BE...
   
         
  2010-08-03 -  Charles E. 'Chuck' Grassley - U.S. Senator, R IA U.S. Senate
       
  2010-08-03 - Orrin Hatch - U.S. Senator, R UT U.S. Senate
     
... SAID THAT HE WOULD APPOINT JUDGES WHO HAVE EMPATHY FOR CERTAIN GROUPS. AS PRESIDENT,...
  2010-08-03 - James M. Inhofe - U.S. Senator, R OK U.S. Senate
        ... SERVE AS LEGISLATORS WHO DEVELOP THEIR OWN EMPATHY STANDARDS AND APPLY THE LAW IN A...
  2010-08-03 - Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate
      .. JUDGES. THEY REJECT JUDGES WHO RELY ON THEIR EMPATHY. AS THE PRESIDENT SAID A JUDGE MUST...
BELIEVE A JUDGE SHOULD RELY ON CASES. THEIR EMPATHY TO DECIDE LEGAL AND JUDGES WHO SEEK...
  2010-08-04 - Senator Sessions on Kagan Nomination 
       
... JUDGES. THEY REJECT JUDGES WHO RELY ON THEIR EMPATHY AS THE PRESIDENT SAID, THAT'S WHAT...
JUDGES SHOULD RELY ONEOPL CASES. THEIR EMPATHY TO DECIDE LEGALECID AND JUDGES WHO...
 

2010-08-04 -  Jeff Sessions - U.S. Senator, R AL U.S. Senate

      .. WORKS AND THE DEPTH AND BREADth OF ONE'S EMPATHY." THIS WAS IN A FLOOR SPEECH IN THE...
WORKS OR THE DEPTH AND BREADth OF THEIR EMPATHY OR ONE'S DEEPEST VALUES OR CORE CONCERNS....
  2010-08-04 -  Edward E. 'Ted' Kaufman - U.S. Senator, D DE U.S. Senate
        ... POINTS OUT, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S INTEREST IN EMPATHY IN THE SUPREME COURT NOMINEES FOLLOWS...
BOSD UPON, IN PART, HOLMES' CAPACITY FOR EMPATHY. ROWS VERY WELL SAID IT WAS EMINENTLY...
   
         
  2010-08-05 - Mitch McConnell Jr. - U.S. Senator, R KY U.S. Senate
      .. WORDS, THAT SHE EMBRACES THE SO-CALLED EMPATHY STANDARD WHEREBY JUDGES ACT ON, TO...
BE A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. AS FOR THE EMPATHY STANDARD, WELL, EMPATHY MAY BE A...
  2010-08-05 - Pat Roberts - U.S. Senator, R KS U.S. Senate
        ... AND, FOUR, THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF ONE'S EMPATHY. " WELL, MADAM PRESIDENT, I RESPECTFULLY...
JUDGMENTS OR COMPLY WITH ONE'S PERSONAL EMPATHY, HOW THEY THINK THE WORLD REALLY...
         
         

2011

   
         
   2011-05-19 - Orrin Hatch on Goodwin Liu
      President Obama takes the opposite view. When he was a Senator and opposed the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, one of the greatest appellate lawyers in the history of the country--he said that judges decide cases based on their deepest values and core concerns, their perspective on how the world works, their empathy, and what is in their heart
I, for one, did not take an oath to support and defend a judge's empathy or perspective on how the world works, whether that judge is liberal or conservative.
   2011-10-03 - Jeff Sessions
      ... THEIR ACTIVIST WHEN IT SUITS THEM. AND IT IS A STRENGTH BOTH FOR WHAT IS EMPATHY? JUDGES MUST ENFORCE, LAWS PASSED PEOPLE, NONLAWYERS GET CASES TURN...
... PART OF THE HAS THE RIGHT TO ALLOW THE LAWS IN FRANCE. WE WHO DO YOU HAVE EMPATHY FOR? STATES. RIGHT. FINALLY, I WOULD NOTE -- WELL, SCALIA APTLY DESCRIBED...
... A BETTER REALLY -- THIS INTERNATIONAL LAW HISTORIC OATH THAT JUDGES TAKE. EMPATHY AND THEIR FEELINGS TO WE DIDN'T ADOPT LAWS IN ITALY OR MAINTAIN A JUDICIARY...
... WORDS. EVER ENFORCED, WHICH THEY'RE FEDERAL JUDGES ARE JUST ALLOW THEIR EMPATHY TO HELP THEM BY THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED IMPORT. EXPERIENCE WHERE ONE...


 

 

 

Others
( ) 2009-08-12 - Tribute to Phyllis Schlafly      (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
        A conservative says empathy is code word for spreading the wealth.
         
  2009-10-02 - Justice Sotomayor and Supreme Court   (75 of 90)  ( video @ c-span)    (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU)
        - Lyle Denniston - from Scotusblog
- Michael Gerhard -
- Dahlia Lithwick - rise and fall of Judicial empathy.
- Charter Phillips -
Dahlia and some others say the debate over empathy is over and will not be brought up again. She sees it as a failure. 
         
  2006-01-06 - Samuel Alito's Decisions Guided By Ethnicity, Empathy    (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
       When a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant, and we an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases, I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.... When I look at those cases I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. they were not citizens at one time.... When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or religion, or because of gender, and I do take that into account.
         
  1991-07-01 - GOP Now and Then: George HW Bush Touted Clarence Thomas' "Great Empathy"    (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)
    GOP Now and Then: George H. W. Bush Touted Clarence Thomas' "Great Empathy"   Wolff Blitzer Notes video clip
"I have followed this man's career for some time... He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor." President George H.W. Bus
         
    1991-10-??- Clarence Thomas - Hearings    (TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - fin)

Clarence Thomas On Walking In Another's Shoes (VIDEO)
I believe, Senator, that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does.

You know, on my current court I have occasion to look out the window that faces C Street, and there are converted buses that bring in the criminal defendants to our criminal justice system, bus load after bus load. And you look out and you say to yourself, and I say to myself almost every day, 'But for the grace of God there go I. 

So you feel that you have the same fate, or could have, as those individuals. So I can walk in their shoes and I could bring something different to the Court. And I think it is a tremendous responsibility and it's a humbling responsibility and it's one that if confirmed, I will carry out to the best of may abilities.

 

Committee Questionnaire
All District/Circuit Court nominees  are now asked about the role that empathy plays in their world view and in their court decisions.  See the side bar for their answers to this question.

 

         
         
         
         
         
         

 

 
         
         
         
 
         
 
         
         
 
 

 

2008-01-22 - Christopher Smith
2008-11-20 - Bob Corke  - (don't need)

 

(TPC - TP - VD - VE - VU - SB - CK - fin)