Obama loves law, will bet his legacy on his court picks

Observers expected President Obama to appoint a woman, who may also be Hispanic, early this week to replace Justice David Souter.
He came through this morning with the appointment of New York jurist Sonia Sotomayor.
He has made no secret of his criteria: he wants an intellectual heavyweight “with a common touch,” meaning someone able to envision how a court decision might affect the lives of ordinary Americans. He has called the trait “empathy,” a term that drew instant criticism from those who worry that the president will name someone who will make law to fit their personal values rather than interpret the constitution through the eyes of those who wrote it when the nation was new.
President Obama comes to this question uniquely qualified. He, himself, is a certified “intellectual heavyweight” on the law. He graduated at the top of his Harvard class and was appointed editor of the university’s law review. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
He also knows that there are no absolutes when it comes to interpreting the law as it applies to a changing world. It is important, he said, “ ... to be able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”

A PRESIDENT at best serves eight years; Supreme Court justices can influence American law directly for 30 years, indirectly for decades longer than their years on the bench.
Seven of the nine justices on the court are older than 60, most are at least 70. But the appointees of President George W. Bush, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, are only 54 and 59, respectively. Sotomayor is 54, relatively close to Obama’s own age, 47 — and someone of his own frame of mind. All presidents select this way.
Obama is very well aware that no appointments he will make as president are more important than the men and women he names to the highest court in the land as vacancies occur. The person he sends to the Senate for confirmation at the beginning of his service is therefore clearly outstanding.

Emerson Lynn jr.