Empathy now 

Was it mere coincidence that President Obama spoke of seeking empathy in a new U.S. Supreme Court justice only a day after the Arkansas Supreme Court had demonstrated conclusively the importance of empathy in all appellate judges? Perhaps not.

The president has a nose for injustice, even in small Southern states that didn't vote for him. It's not inconceivable that he's been following the legal challenges to Arkansas's “tort reform” law, a sizable injustice that was perpetrated on the people of Arkansas by their elected legislators in 2003. Corporations, physicians and other members of the economic upper crust decided they needed additional protection from lawsuits filed by people they'd injured. The legislature obliged overwhelmingly, typically eager to help those not in need. Proponents of the bill never came close to making a case for it; didn't matter.  It's said you don't need evidence if you've got the judge, and it's equally true that you don't need facts if you've got the legislature. The fat cats usually have it.

Failed by the legislative branch, the little people could only go to court to question the constitutionality of an unfair statute. Last week, the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled key provisions of the law invalid. The justices did what the legislature should've, assuring that poor as well as rich get their day in court. And only 24 hours later, President Obama said he wanted  “empathy and understanding,” along with a solid legal background, in the new U.S. Supreme Court justice he's about to appoint.

Empathy and understanding are not conspicuous in a majority of the justices of the present U.S. court. They see themselves as champions of a fairly small group of Americans who look and think just like themselves. Try to imagine Antonin Scalia, the leader of the court, having “empathy and understanding” for someone who's not white, rich, male and Catholic.

Like the Arkansas legislature, the U.S. Supreme Court is quick to protect those who are not in danger. Real victims are viewed less charitably; they were asking for it. The majority's lack of empathy for the average American resulted in the Court's hijacking of the 2000 presidential election, installing the court's choice for president instead of the people's, the most monstrous case of “judicial activism” in American history. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah says he's been assured the president will not appoint radicals or extremists to the Court. This is wonderful news. The Court has too many radicals and extremists already, too many Scalias, Thomases, Robertses et al, all appointed by Republican presidents. Rescuing the country from them will be a long process, but it can begin with a single justice.   




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "People's Police"

    In this week’s episode, Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the ongoing contract negotiations between Little Rock Education Association and Little Rock School District regarding Fair Teacher Dismissal Act, the Little Rock Mayoral Runoff Election, and lack of coverage of white nationalist’s rally. In addition, they interview Sgt. Willie Davis of the Little Rock Police Department regarding importance of community policing and his involvement in the O.K. Program, a mentoring program for teenage black males.
    • Nov 13, 2018
  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "Vote for a Change"

    In this week’s episode, Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the 2018 local elections in Little Rock and Central Arkansas.
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • New episode of Out in Arkansas: "The Rainbow Wave"

    Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen talk about all the things because all the things are LGBTQ things. This week they talk about the outcome of the mid-term elections and finding positives in even the smallest steps of progress, as well as what comes next. It doesn’t stop with our votes! Thank you for listening! #outinarkansas #beinggayinthesouth #dontbeadouche #beadecentperson
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: On to 2020

    • I have long been in favor of women running for office. I like women. I…

    • on November 15, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation