Re "Obama to influence our courts," March 15
President Obama's intention to select judges with empathy is misrepresented by Judicial Confirmation Network legal counsel Wendy E. Long, who argues that when you "listen to your own heart and values, that means you're not following the law."
Following the law often requires judicial empathy -- being able to see the world from other people's points of view. A judge must interpret broad constitutional provisions such as due process and must determine congressional intent behind ambiguous statutory terms, in light of their purpose and history.
For example, the Supreme Court repeatedly misinterpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act because the justices could not understand how Congress designed the act to ease real-world challenges. This was highlighted when the House and Senate unanimously passed, and President Bush signed, a bill overturning the court's rulings.
The writer is senior judicial counsel for Earthjustice and has headed its project on access to courts and federal judicial nominations since 2001.
The Times reports that "conservatives tend to argue that laws should be strictly applied to avoid infusing justice with a judge's personal views and values."
What conservatives do not tell people is that conservative judges too tend to infuse justice with their own personal views and values.