Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The empathy hustle

By Rick Morris

Yesterday's announcement that constitutional radical Sonia Sotomayor would join the Supreme Court -- and all "process" ga-ga aside, the votes were there even to put the corpse of Abbie Hoffman on the Court if President Obama so chose -- triggered yet another insipid round of talk in left-wing circles about how this nominee had the "empathy" to be a great Justice.

Even in this Orwellian world we now inhabit, where words are routinely turned on their heads, rarely have two words as far apart as "empathy" and "tyranny" been joined. But now, truly, in Obama's Washington, tyranny=empathy.

Republicans have been right to stand up to the empathy hustle, although they've done so in their usual clumsy way and have been ripe for some of the most shameless Democrat whimpering yet: "You're opposed to empathy? You must love to see starving old people and children begging on street corners!"

What nobody has been able to enunciate -- until now, that is -- is why the interjection of a term such as "empathy" into this solemn process is a crime against our lawful form of government.

It's very simple, actually. We are the constitutional republic that we are because we are tethered to the words set down in our Constitution lo those centuries ago, nothing more and nothing less. Every attempt to render this as a "living document" spits in the face of what we are as a country.

We cannot invent new rights and laws out of whole cloth. The Constitution provides a manner by which it can be amended and that is the proper course for any changes that must come outside of what was laid out previously. Those changes must originate in the legislative branch, the one closest and most responsive to the people. Unfortunately, in the decades since FDR began interjecting extra-constitutional principles into our political discourse, judges have felt free to make decisions on what they feel that the law should be, instead of what it actually is.

This path leads invariably to a banana republic. If the law is whatever some people in robes say that it is, then everything that we stand for as a nation is up for grabs every day. There must be universal truth in the course of a set of laws that we abide by as a country. Judges must have the mindset to interpret the laws as they are, not as they want them to be.

When a judge like Sotomayer speaks approvingly of bringing change from the bench, when political hacks cite "empathy" and "life experience" as positive qualifiers rather than a determination to objectively render justice without prejudice, our constitutional republic is truly on life support. But then again, Barack Obama was elected on the affirmation that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

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