Sen. Hatch, the press, and code words

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The Utah Republican made news this week with his claim in a law journal essay that the next SCOTUS pick should be judged on how that nominee decides law, not whether they're compassionate. And on ABC's This Week, Hatch sweetened the pot by claiming that Obama's previous use of "empathy" to describe an ideal justice was really a "code word" for wanting to select an activist jurist.

According to press accounts:

The [law journal] essay serves as an early warning shot to President Obama that conservative Republicans do not put much stock in the notion that judges should be empathetic on the bench.

Going forward, the press better make that "some" conservative Republicans don't put much stock in the trait.

Here's Sen. Strom Thurmond's (R-S.C.) testimony from the confirmation hearing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Over the years I have determined the special qualifications I believe an individual should possess to serve on the Supreme Court. They are as follows...Third, compassion. While a nominee must be firm in his or her decisions, they should show mercy when appropriate.

And here's Sen. Mike De-Wine (R-Ohio) during the John Robert nomination hearings:

We need you to bring to the court your compassion and your understanding for the lives of others who haven't been as successful as you have been.

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