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.

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