Obama: We need a justice with 'empathy'

For the next few weeks, everyone in Washington will be trying to read the tea leaves to predict who Obama will nominate to replace Justice Souter.

For a simple guide, take a look at what candidate Obama said during the campaign.

Speaking to Planned Parenthood in July, 2007:
[W]hat you've got to look at is, what is in the justice's heart? What's their broader vision of what America should be? Justice Roberts said he saw himself just as an umpire, but the issues that come before the Court are not sport, they're life and death. And we need somebody who's got 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 poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old--and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges. Alright?

At a debate in November 2007:
I would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right to privacy. But you're right, Wolf, I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and I -- when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it's not just the particular issue and how they rule, but it's their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout.

Look for conservative to dig up these remarks as evidence that Obama hopes to appoint "legislators" rather than judges. The court, they will say, is not a place for "empathy" but for judgment.

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