[President Obama's] also said that a judge has to be a person of empathy. What does that mean? Usually that's a code word for an activist judge.I am genuinely horrified by the idea that there are people out there who are displeased by the idea of an empathic judge. This goes beyond the fact that, as I've argued in the past, I think empathy should an essential pillar of human life. If there's one place the ability to understand somebody's emotional state, it's when that emotional state has led them to commit a crime, and they need to receive a fair sentence (or, in the case of the Supreme Court, when it needs to be decided whether a given sentence was fair). More than that, Hatch implies he not only doesn't like the idea, but that the mere suggestion must be a code for a judge that will attempt to re-jig the application of the Constitution. Empathic judges are not only a bad idea, they are a priori less trustworthy when it comes to considering the constitution.
I'm not by any means suggesting empathy is a sufficient condition for being a good judge, but there are a lot of reasons to fear the suggestion that lack of empathy might be a necessary one.
Right, I'm off for my quick tour of the South. See you all on Friday.