Do Judges Make Law Essay

3564 WordsApr 10, 201315 Pages
The Proper Role of Judges: Compatible with Compassion? Richard Garlikov With President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, a controversy has broken out (as usual and predictable) over the proper role of judges in our particular constitutional system of government. President Obama has said he wants to appoint a justice who not only has all the legal expertise necessary but who understands with compassion how legal decisions impact the lives of ordinary people, particularly those who are disadvantaged within the system, usually because of economics, gender, race, educational status, age, or country of origin (in the case of immigrants). Judge Sotomayor has said she has always tried to take those things into account in rendering judicial decisions and believes that her background enables her to do that, because she was the child of immigrants raised in a project in New York, was raised by her mother after her father died when she was young, with her mother working two jobs in order for her to attend good schools. The controversy arises because the comments by President Obama and Judge Sotomayor are construed by many to mean that her decisions have been and will be in favor of the least advantaged rather than on the merits of their cases dispensed impartially under the law. And although supporters of Judge Sotomayor quickly point out examples where she ruled against women or immigrants or minorities, opponents worry that as a Supreme Court justice, she will be under fewer constraints to do so in the future. While I cannot speak for either President Obama or Judge Sotomayor in terms of what they have in mind, I would like to articulate a reasonable position that is compatible with their words. If this is the position they mean, all the better, but if not, it is still an important way to understand the proper role of judges in our

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