Sen. Jeff Sessions says that a Supreme Court nominee who followed President Obama’s legal philosophy of considering the impact of a decision rather than following the law would not be qualified for the high court.
“He said that he wanted a judge who would consider the impact the decision would have on ordinary Americans,” Sessions (R.-Ala.) said in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS. “That’s a call to something other than the law and the facts. That’s a call to something more akin to politics than law. And so again I think the President’s presenting a troubling philosophy, and you have to assume that’s the kind of judge he’s going to nominate.”
Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that kind of standard shouldn’t be confirmed whether it’s espoused by a liberal or conservative.
“You can have a liberal or conservative judge who has such strong personal views that they can’t — and won’t — follow the law,” Sessions said. “Both of those are disqualified.”
He questioned whether Obama considers the Constitution when making decisions. “I think the American people are coming to recognize that the President sees the Constitution as an inconvenience…a handicap to achieving the agenda that he has,” he said.
Sessions’ comments came as President Obama is considering a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Sessions, a former practicing attorney, said there’s a strong, intellectual movement in prestigious law schools that advocates judges should allow their personal views to supersede the law.
“But it has a lot adherence, and President Obama seems to favor that view,” Sessions said.
The issue surfaced last year during the confirmation process for Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Then, the controversy swirled over the use of the word “empathy,” a quality the President said he was looking for in his search for a candidate to replace Justice David Souter.
Sotomayor came under criticism for a 2001 statement saying she would hope a wise Latina would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male because of her experience. But Sessions said during the her confirmation hearing she “explicitly rejected” the President’s judicial standard of empathy to decide cases.
Sessions said he was not prepared to make a judgment yet on whether Sotomayor has been consistent with how she portrayed herself at her hearing, but he did say that her confirmation testimony seemed contrary to what she had previously expressed.“I think that was done in some part because there was an understanding within the administration that the American people didn’t believe in that kind of judge,” Sessions said. This time around, though the word “empathy” is noticeably absent, Sessions said he thinks the President is still looking for the trait sans the label.