A Quick Comment on this Empathy Issue

Sonia Sotomayor is going to be confirmed as our newest Supreme Court justice. There's little doubt about that-the votes are there. But Congress is going through the motions with these hearings anyway.One thing that's come up again is this issue of whether a justice should be "empathetic." Obama first floated this thought back on July 17, 2007, at a Planned Parenthood conference, saying a Supreme Court justice should be someone "who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."Some people read this empathy criterion as code for some kind of minority favoritism. Back when Souter retired, Wendy Long, a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and legal counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, articulated the concern:...what he means is he wants empathy for one side and what's wrong with that is it is being partial instead of being impartial. A judge is supposed to have empathy for no one but simply to follow the law.... The best way to have empathy for people and the best way to have empathy for our Constitution is to appoint judges who will rule based on the law and to have empathy, if you will, for the law only and to rule based on the law...And this week, during the hearings, everyone's been talking about it. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said:I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their own personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision. Call it empathy, call it prejudice or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it's not law...I think it's crazy to argue that empathy interferes with applying the law. There are all sorts of aspects of judging that not only benefit from, but require, empathy. A good example is the recent Supreme Court decision on the 13-year old girl who was strip searched at school for ibuprofen. To rule that a strip search is intrusive, as they did, you have to understand the trauma it would cause a girl, and that requires understanding her feelings-an ability otherwise known as empathy. It's similar when a judge has to gauge the deterring effect of a punishment or any mitigating psychological circumstances surrounding a dispute. In these cases, making a sensible judgment is easier if you're good at understanding the inner workings of people's minds and hearts, and harder if you just aren't very sensitive to them. And it's reasonable to think that people who've been 13-year old girls (or racial minorities, or disabled) are better equipped to put themselves in the relevant shoes. That's why you want a diverse, and I'd say empathetic, crew of justices.So we can argue about whether Sotomayor is prejudiced or privileges some group identity over the law, but that's not the same question as whether empathy has a role in a judge's work. It clearly does, and it's valuable. Disregard the people who simplify this issue as a choice between empathy or following the law.
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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