You rarely see such deep political views stated openly.
President Obama clearly says that, when considering a nominee for retiring Justice Souter’s seat on the Supreme Court:
“I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives… whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples’ hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”
The problem, of course, is that judges… especially those on the highest court in the nation… are supposed to be BLIND to how laws affect people’s lives. Their job is to simply INTERPRET THE LAW. Decisions and outcomes in a court of law cannot be affected by the hopes and struggles of people… those are intangibles. Outcomes should be dictated by an honest and literal interpretation of the written law, not by a subjective evaluation of the circumstances.
It IS the responsibility of our legislative branch to consider how proposed laws might affect the lives of citizens BEFORE they are passed. THAT is when subjective discussions take place and sometimes emotional decisions are made whether or not a law will be made.
Once it becomes a law, however, then the judicial branch of our government is charged solely with interpreting it. Of course, a law could be found in conflict with the highest law of the land, our Constitution, in which case the Supreme Court can determine that law to be invalid. But a court cannot legally change or rewrite a law, that is the sole purview of the legislative branch.
Sadly, some judges choose to over-reach… they “play” the system, “bending” the law to meet their personal agendas. Instead of strictly interpreting the law, they manipulate it. They “legislate from the bench”.
So, our President basicaly states that he WANTS to find a Supreme Court nominee who will make decisions based on something other than the law. I find that disappointing. If he were describing attributes of a good LEGISLATOR, I would agree. I think he has missed the mark on the qualities OUR COUNTRY needs when selecting judges.