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A Republican Response to Sonia Sotomayor: Criticize, Then Confirm

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Empathy is a vital virtue to be exercised in private life -- through charity, respect and loving kindness -- and in the legislative life of a society where the consequences of any law matter greatly, which is why income taxes are progressive and safety nets are built for the poor and disadvantaged.

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But all that stops at the courthouse door. Figuratively and literally, justice wears a blindfold. It cannot be a respecter of persons. Everyone must stand equally before the law, black or white, rich or poor, advantaged or not.

Obama and Sotomayor draw on the "richness of her experiences" and concern for judicial results to favor one American story, one disadvantaged background, over another. The refutation lies in the very oath Sotomayor must take when she ascends to the Supreme Court: "I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. . . . So help me God."

When the hearings begin, Republicans should call Frank Ricci as their first witness. Democrats want justice rooted in empathy? Let Ricci tell his story, and let the American people judge whether his promotion should have been denied because of his skin color in a procedure Sotomayor joined in calling "facially race-neutral."

Make the case for individual vs. group rights, for justice vs. empathy. Then vote to confirm Sotomayor solely on the grounds -- consistently violated by the Democrats, including Sen. Obama -- that a president is entitled to deference on his Supreme Court nominees, particularly one who so thoroughly reflects the mainstream views of the winning party. Elections have consequences.

Vote Democratic and you get mainstream liberalism: a judicially mandated racial spoils system and a jurisprudence of empathy that hinges on which litigant is less "advantaged."

A teaching moment, as liberals like to say. Clarifying and politically potent. Seize it.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com


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