Many conservative pundits are criticizing President Obama for valuing empathy in his highly qualified Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. But wanting a judge to understand the impact that rulings have on people isn’t new. President George H.W. Bush cited Clarence Thomas’ “great empathy” when announcing his nomination to the Supreme Court, Media Matters noted. And during his confirmation hearing, Thomas said that he believed he could “bring something different to the court,” in that he could “walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the court does.” At the time, GOP lawmakers praised this empathy. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said that Thomas’ “compassion and understanding of the impact that the Supreme Court has on the lives of average Americans” were just as important as his legal qualifications.
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