Bench Memos

Obama’s Empathy

A reader writes to state that he “was really bothered by the President’s crack about the Special Olympics last night” (on Jay Leno’s show) and to call into question what President Obama’s so-called empathy standard for judicial nominees really means:

I have a mentally impaired sibling who has participated in those games and would be devastated to find that the President of the United States thinks her efforts funny.  It struck me that his comments were especially out of line given his own gold standard for nominees, which called for nominees with 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 . . . disabled. . . .  And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting judges.” Through his chuckling mocking of handicapped athletes last night, the President showed he would fail his own standard.  I wonder if he really cares about empathy for the disabled at all — or if his empathy standard is merely a proxy for activist tendencies.

A good question.  It is quite clear that any empathy that Obama might have for disabled persons does not translate into enabling citizens to afford them any meaningful legal protection of their basic right to life when they are in utero.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

‘Judges for the #Resistance’

At Politico, I wrote today about the judiciary’s activism against Trump on immigration: There is a lawlessness rampant in the land, but it isn’t emanating from the Trump administration. The source is the federal judges who are making a mockery of their profession by twisting the law to block the Trump ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Friendships Are America’s Asset

The stale, clichéd conceptions of Donald Trump held by both Left and Right — a man either utterly useless or only rigidly, transactionally tolerable — conceal the fact that the president does possess redeeming talents that are uniquely his, and deserve praise on their own merit. One is personal friendliness ... Read More
U.S.

Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More
Culture

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More

Poll Finds Nevada Voters Support School-Choice Programs

According to an April poll, a large number of Nevada voters support school-choice programs. The poll, conducted by Nevada Independent/Mellman, found that 70 percent of voters support a proposal for a special-needs Education Savings Account and 59 percent support expanding the funding for the current tax-credit ... Read More