U.S. Supreme Court

Empathy Focus for Obama Justices

Presidential candidate Barack Obama told a Planned Parenthood conference this afternoon that judicial philosophy needs to be weighed more carefully for potential U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The former law professor ridiculed the confirmation process for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., according to a post on First Read at MSNBC.com. Obama said the emphasis was on superficial things: “He loves his wife. He’s good to his dog.”

Obama said that he would select justices with compassion.

“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’m going to be selecting my judges.”

Obama also couldn’t resist a dig at Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who provided the fifth vote to uphold a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion in Gonzales v. Carhart. “Justice Kennedy knows many things,” he said, “but my understanding is that he does not know how to be a doctor.”

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