In the face of revelations that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made numerous "wise Latina" speeches suggesting race and gender should affect a judge’s decisions, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, says objectivity "is the central question" for consideration of Judge Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination:
Do I want a judge that allows his or her social, political, or religious views to impact the outcome?
Or, do I want a judge that objectively applies the law to the facts, and fairly rules on the merits?
That is the central question around which this entire nomination process will revolve.
Senator Sessions laid down the objectivity marker in the weekly Republican address, in which Sessions also takes President Obama to task for use the "empathy standard" in nominating Judge Sotomayor:
I am troubled by President Obama's use of the ‘empathy standard' when selecting federal judges.
With this view—that a judge should use his or her personal feelings about a particular group or issues to decide a case—it stands in stark contrast to the impartiality that we expect in the American courtroom.
If a judge is allowed to let his or her feelings for one party in the case sway his decision, hasn't that judge then demonstrated a bias against the other party?
And, if a judge is allowed to inject his personal views into the interpretation of the law, does he not then have a license to rewrite the laws to fit his own preferences?
I fear that this ‘empathy standard' is another step down the path to a cynical, relativistic, results-oriented world:
- Where words and laws have no fixed meaning;
- Where unelected judges set policy;
- And where Constitutional limits on government power are ignored when they are inconvenient to the powerful.
This standard is deeply troubling because it is so contradictory to our country's long heritage of a faithful and impartial adherence to the rule of law.
Impartiality is a cornerstone of the American legal system. The rule of law is a hallmark of an orderly society. Together, they form the basis for the moral authority of law.
That moral authority is the reason that Americans everyday respect and accept the rulings of courts, even when they strongly disagree.
You can watch Senator Sessions' remarks in the following video, which begins by honoring those who participated in the invasion of Normandy 65 years ago: