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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Error of Empathy in Law

President Barack Obama, a self-proclaimed constitutional scholar, believes that the Supreme Court, and all law overall, needs to have empathy for the people it affects. Like others I have commented on, I think it's an admirable idea to have such feelings for others, but it's quite idealistic and dangerous to decide on the interpretation of our founding laws and law in general by the whims of the heart instead the reason of the mind.

Objectivity, for the most part, is the staple of American law (or at least it was before the cultural shift that began in the 1960s). In the face of emotions, our laws claw out reason from the depths and create a harmony that only true justice can create. Of course, this harmony itself is subjective. The courts of antebellum tried to keep the peace between he absolutist North and slave owning South, but with the Civil War it eventually relented to the moral tsunami that came with liberation. Even then, despite politically charged rulings, the courts were not the self-centered institutions they are today, not until laws became less about keeping the peace and more about changing the world.

I am not a lawyer, nor even close to being an amateur scholar on the matter, but even from a layman follower of legal matters I think it's quite obvious we should keep "empathy" far from the chambers of the Supreme Court. Empathy for those who do not fully understand the law, myself included, will cloud the reasonable judgments the court is supposed to pass down across the country. Empathy clouded the judgment that said a state cannot determine its own criteria for the death penalty. Empathy allowed non-citizen terrorists to receive American rights others took years or decades to earn. Empathy turned military operations into police actions with a court overview that extends to every inch of American protected soil.

In a time of war, let alone a time of peace, can we ever afford our courts to disregard their centuries of collective experience in reason and objectivity so the populace can be sated in their need to have their leaders be one of them. The common man, while the backbone of our nation, hardly has the responsibility that our Supreme Court does. The key to a hierarchical society is that we recognize that there are people who are above us, who know more, who can lead us righteously. Of course, a healthy skepticism of these leaders is needed and deeply welcomed, but we cannot discard them simply because they do not watch American Idol or shop at the local Smith's.

Empathy is something for Congress to have, for they are the voice of their people. Empathy is something President Obama can lecture on, for he is the spokesman of America. It's a totally welcomed and humane thing to have, for we are not robots nor monsters. But, with objective law, the ceiling of all Western civilization, it cannot be the guiding light. Otherwise, we fall into the depravity of relativism, and with that, the decline of our values and nation are all but assured.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree.
Of course, they only use empathy in regards to bleeding-heart liberal issues. The conservative issues, however...apparently THOSE are ok to ignore.
Personally I feel that refusing women the right to own guns is sexist, refusing the elderly the right to own guns is ageist, and refusing parents the right to protect their home and children with one or more firearms is deliberate child endangerment.
But apparently, the liberals care nothing for OUR safety.

yukio ngaby said...

I would have to agree with your assessment. I think you're correct in saying that the interpretation of law was meant to be (and should be) relatively neutral, a rational and academic counter-balance to the emotions of Congress. Yet, the law seems to be more and more flexible recently, depending on the mood of the country.

Like most things Obama, this issue is approached with arrogance and narcissism. Obama and his ilk believe they know what's best, and can do it better than anyone who came before them. This attitude has been shared by FDR and other Americans, but generally the role was forced upon them in some way. Obama exaggerates and manufactures to force his agendas through-- a hallmark of failures.