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Senator Kyl Emphatically Rejects Obama’s “Empathy” Standard

Morgen on June 4, 2009 at 9:23 am

Judge Sotomayor was back on the Hill yesterday for another day of introductory meetings with Senators on the Judiciary Committee. Senate Republicans seem to be mostly unified behind a strategy of keeping their powder dry on the “wise Latina” controversy, while emphasizing the importance of taking a deliberative approach in reviewing Judge Sotomayor’s long case record. As I’ve indicated before, I think this is the right approach on the part of the GOP. The Democrats in recent years have treated Republican judicial nominees very poorly – right out of the gate – and this is an opportunity for the GOP to demonstrate a lot more class and professionalism. (Meanwhile, bloggers and talk radio pundits can keep the controversy simmering).

However, while it’s a good idea for GOP Senators to moderate their direct criticisms of Judge Sotomayor at this stage, there is no reason to give President Obama a pass and miss the opportunity to convey to the public how conservatives have a very different view of the role of the judiciary. At a press conference yesterday before meeting with Judge Sotomayor, Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona did exactly this. Listen (audio only):

Senator Kyl on “Empathy”

I should also note that at least one Republican Senator has broken ranks to a degree and expressed some very direct reservations about Judge Sotomayor.¬†Politico reported yesterday that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) remains “deeply troubled” regarding Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” statement, and that it is unlikely he will ultimately support her nomination.¬†

But I think Senator Kyl’s approach is the correct one and he should be commended for speaking out so assertively. President Obama voted against both Judge Alito and Chief Justice Roberts on purely ideological grounds, and he would have supported a filibuster had enough other Democrats been willing. While I don’t think anyone would deny that empathy is a laudable human trait, I think most Americans would agree that a judge must do more than simply “aspire to” complete impartiality. The idea that empathy should play any more significant role than say common sense… or reason…is completely ridiculous. And the Republicans are right to reject this standard outright. Kudos Senator Kyl.

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