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5 Empathetic Supreme Court Decisions Which Bettered Society

federal pardons
by SS&SS

Article by Neil Thakore

I was reading a blog on Sotomayor, and I came across a comment criticizing Sotomayor about her “wise Latina comment”. Needless to say, the discussion that later followed inevitably led to the comment “Empathy has no place on SC” or something along those lines. Actually here the comment verbatim:

Blogger Maggie M. Thornton said…

Empathy should have no place inside the Supreme Court. Once you stoop to consider your empathetic feelings, you have added social justice to the Court. It’s just wrong.

So in honor of Ms. Maggie M. Thornton, I decided to give a list of my top 5 most famous empathetic supreme court rulings which progressed our society to show, while empathy should NOT be taken into heavy consideration when nominating a Supreme Court Justice, it definately can be a very good thing.

Okay so before I begin, let me explain something about empathy. In reality, empathy is a lot like personal bias. The best way to describe empathy is to “put yourself in another shoes” to understand their situation. Sounds great right? Well, not exactly to everyone. The reason why Republicans, such as my friend Maggie (I think), have a problem with empathy is because it will lead to Judicial Activism (OH NO!). But what people need to understand is that every SC justice has empathy towards a certain group due to their biases. Just look at Chief Justice Roberts for example, in the New Yorker Jeffery Toobin examines the record of Justice Roberts and finds that in EVERY court ruling Roberts sides with the Federal Executive Branch, the State, or the Corporation over the individual. Its not a coincidence that Roberts used to be a corporate lawyer; its his empathy he has from being a corporate lawyer that effects his decision. Anyways, I digress, so without further ado….

5) Roe v. Wade – Okay, so I know Maggie doesn’t agree with me on this one. But obviously I believe abortion laws, such as this stature, has bettered soceity. In this case the SC overturns a Texas abortion law claiming it violates a woman’s right to privacy under the 9th Amendment. Thank God, Justice Blackmun had three daughters…

4) Plessy v. Fergason – Yeah, Yeah. I know this case didn’t overturn anyting, but Justice Harlan’s dissent became a steppingstone in racial equality. In this an African American sat in a white booth in a train station. He got prosecuted. The Court of Lousiana upheld the prosecution. It went to SC. SC upheld the Court of Lousiana, but not without some emphatic words from Harlan. Little note about Harlan: He is well known to be often have his decisions or dissents be effected by his on personal convictions. He was a huge proponent of a racial equality not only as a SC judge but as a teacher too. Its no suprise that almost all of his dissents, had to do with racial equality.

3) McCulloch v. Maryland: Long story short, the there was the United States Bank in Maryland, and Maryland tried to tax it. The Bank refused to pay. BOOM! Lawsuit. The court of Maryland sides with Maryland. The decision gets appealed and the SC rules in favor of McCulloch (the US Bank). The Chief Justice? Justice Marshall, one of the biggest proponents of a strong centralized government. Imagine if it the SC decided to never take the case, Yikes!

2) Brown v. the Board of Education – Now we are getting into it. This subtly emphatic ruling changed the future of our nation. If Harlan’s dissent was a steppingstone for racial equality, this is a milestone. How empathetic was this ruling? Chief Justice Warren actually was convinced that the Court’s opinion should be short and clear, enough for the public to understand what is to be accepted as the new social norm. Not only did Warren look to change the law, he wanted to change societies view to frankly, match his own.

1) Marbury v. Madison : The king of all empathetic rulings. We all know this case, so here is why Chief Justice Marshall’s ruling was filled with empathy. While he ruled against his party, the Feds, ultimately he realized that by ruling against his party (Madison), he saved his party in the long run by issuing Judicial Review. Many people argue he should of pardoned himself from the case due to biases, lucky for us, he didnt.

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