What Is Empathy? Obama’s Philosophy of Law and the Next Supreme Court Justice

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Philip R. Olenick says:

    As a trial and appellate lawyer for over 30 years, I can attest that there is no shortage of laws to use in deciding cases. The problem is that each side has its own sets of laws that it believes dictate that it should win.

    It’s in the choice of laws that the great debates take place:

    Should we all be evaluated for hiring by uniform standards or should account be taken of the lingering effects of past injustices that have placed barriers in front of some applicants?

    Should the principle of individual liberty trump all other principles, or does the principle of democratic equality require preventing the vastly differing amounts of power in the hands of different people from making democracy moot by limiting the exercise of that power in some areas?

    Does the right of freedom of speech mean that the wealthiest and most powerful must be allowed to monopolize discussion?

    Does “freedom of contract” mean that those who are forced by lesser bargaining power into unfair deals have no right to complain?

    May a government’s duty to keep us safe be invoked to justify strip-searching a teenaged girl for Advil? Does “probable cause” mean what it says or does it mean “possible cause” as it has for too long been treated as meaning?

    In all of these disputes – and there are many more, for anyone who chooses to look – the problem is not the absence of an available law, it’s the presence of warring laws.

    Empathy is being advanced by Obama as a “meta” law – a law to be used to choose between rival laws.

    He’s looking for someone who can see that these are genuine philosophical issues and that someone who automatically sides with the power centers in our society is not what we need.