Fear Mongering, and Judicial Empathy

There are 2 excellent opinion columns in the Friday, 22 May, Denver Post newspaper. David Harsanyi writes about Fear: Our national pastime. Mike Rosen writes about Empathy and the Supreme Court.

Democrats accuse Republicans of fear mongering and being the party of NO anytime Repubs disagree with Dems. But when Dems want to exercise haste in instituting policies in the name of economic bailouts, global warming (I mean, “climate change”) and the like, then it’s not fear but expeditious prudence driving them. This conservative, for one, has had a healthy and reasonable fear (as well as shock, awe, amazement, and disbelief) at how far down the road to Euro-Socialism this country has been dragged in Obama’s first 100 days, despite the efforts of the Party of No.

Harsanyi makes numerous cogent (reasonable and convincing) points in his column. One example:

“During the "debate" over the government’s "stimulus" plan, the president claimed that the consequences of not passing his plan would mean the "recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."

To contend that a country that survived the Great Depression, world wars, a Civil War and the social upheavals of the past century could not reverse a recession without an immense government bailout is farcical. (Moreover, almost nothing the president’s economists predicted has come to fruition; the opposite has. We are still approaching double-digit unemployment and sinking deeper into crisis, despite the passage of the "stimulus" plan.) “

Read his short column.

As for Mike Rosen and judicial Empathy:


1.the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

2.the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

(Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.)

Although we all surely want the absolutely BEST QUALIFIED human being possible to be the next Supreme Court Justice, in the interest of being “fair” we may get a Hispanic female (who hopefully worked her way through college while digging ditches from the confines of a wheelchair all of which she has since risen from, or not).  (I’m kidding… somewhat.)

As Mike Rosen notes in his column: “…the president proclaimed that his replacement must be an individual endowed with "empathy," adding, "I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book.  It is also about how our laws affect the daily reality of people’s lives."”

Mike says further: ”In fact, justice is very much about legal theory and case law. The principle of stare decisis holds that courts will generally honor the decisions of prior courts. This is what makes our system of justice predictable and consistent, rather than random and arbitrary.

When empathetic judges rule on their feelings, they are exceeding their authority.”

A few other excerpts from Mike’s column:

“The point is that the role of the judicial branch of our government is to rule on the Constitution as written and the law as passed by Congress and signed by the president. The courts are a co-equal branch of government, not a superior branch. Their job is not to rule on what they think the law ought to be. That’s government by a presumptuous, unelected judiciary.”

“To use a sports metaphor, judges are referees, not rulemakers. They’re not there to represent or empathize with the fans or the players. They represent the rule book, and they aren’t authorized to rewrite it or make it "fairer."”

I highly recommend reading the entire column.

For a counterpoint see this article: Goodman: Supreme Court nominees and empathy.

In addition I highly recommend the book The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Constitution by Kevin R. Gutzman. (It is also in audiobook version.) He thoughtfully and factually describes how the Supreme Court has continuously strayed from the Constitution and practiced judicial activism almost since it was created. It is educational and YOU need to be informed.


About JohnRH

Retired, avid winter skier, avid reader, traveler (avidly). :)
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