[Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama] pre-emptively declared that he would not vote for a judge who uses the “empathy standard” in deciding cases—a reference to the sensitivity toward average people that President Obama said he looked for in nominees, and which has been transformed by the political right into code for favoring blacks or other ethnic minorities over whites. Sessions seemed to predict nothing short of the collapse of American law as we know it if Sotomayor is confirmed: “Down one path is the traditional American legal system, so admired around the world, where judges impartially apply the law to the facts without regard to their own personal views,” Sessions declared. “This is the compassionate system because it is the fair system.”
Undeterred by his gross historical error—had every court in American history applied the law in this manner, schools would still be legally segregated, a woman’s right to earn a living and obtain credit would still be denied, and so on—Sessions went on to attack even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an unusual broadside against a sitting justice, he accused Ginsburg of being “one of the most activist judges in history” even though a glancing look at her record shows she has been part of an almost powerless, left-of-center bloc on the court that included three men, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.
Ginsburg’s affliction, then, is apparently the same as Sotomayor’s: She sees the world differently than does Sessions. This is the key to understanding the unhinged argument about “empathy.”
It presumes that the white male experience is the only authentically American experience, and therefore the only one that could possibly be unbiased. Whatever predispositions or inclinations these men bring to the law are the valid ones. After all, they are not hampered by some silly notions they may have picked up along the way had they lived their lives as women or as members of minority groups.
– Marie Cocco, Closet Racism in the Age of Obama
Related: Cory Doctorow points to an extensive Flickr gallery commemorating Sessions’ longstanding tenure as a dumbasstastic racist fuckateer. On a more serious note, U.S. News runs down ‘Sonia Sotomayor’s 13 Most Notable Decisions’.