President Obama On David Souter And His Coming SCOTUS Decision
by Todd Beeton, Fri May 01, 2009 at 11:24:36 AM EDT
President Obama surprised Robert Gibbs by replacing him at the podium a few minutes ago to make a statement himself regarding Justice Souter's decision to step down and what his process will be for choosing a replacement. Here's what he said:
The process of picking someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone that understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook, it is also how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcomed in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time. As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum and it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the court's new term begins.
A couple things to take away from this statement. First is the progressive frame advanced in the statement that justice comes out of empathy. Second is Obama's pledge to seek someone "who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply [constitutional values] in our time." In other words, the president wants someone who sees the constitution as a living breathing organism. All good.