The lamposts in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington depict “Lady Justice” wearing a blindfold. The image is one of the most popular depictions of the concept of justice and is meant to convey the idea that those who decide ought to do so on the basis of the facts and the law, and not on the basis of one’s power, position, or connexions.
It appears, however, that President Obama believes such a concept is a bit outdated. In commenting on the qualifications he desires in a new Supreme Court nominee, the president expressed the view that “[w]e 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.”
In other words, justice on the Obama court is not to be a matter of the rule of law; it is to be dependent on one’s place or status. Apparently, the “teenage mom” or the “poor” are to get a leg up; they’re to get special treatment simply for being who they are. Obama does not explain, however, why that should be so, nor does he explain how picking winners and losers on the basis of poverty is any different than picking them on the basis of their power or prestige. Instead, Mr. Obama’s comments reveal that he retains a disturbing resevoir of hard-core sixties leftism. For him, justice is merely an exercise in power politics, albeit performed while wearing black robes.
There’s another common image of Lady Justice. It is a woman holding a scale and is meant to convey the idea that justice is impartial. Mr. Obama thinks that image, too, is outdated. He apparently believes that the members of the Supreme Court ought to have a big thumb on those scales when certain favoured groups come before them.
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