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« Confucianism doesn't make people sheep, Legalism does | Main | Han Feizi on North Korea »

May 28, 2009

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Another reality check from the Left ( or at least the humorous side ): ALEXANDER COCKBURN http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Cockburn on the said gentlewoman


WASP dominance is on the way out – but their social priorities are safe in the hands of the Catholics and Jews on the Court and when it comes to the class war Ms Sotomayor is no boat-rocker, any more than the President who has nominated her.

http://www.counterpunch.org/

...
The Bronx is the poorest urban county in the USA.. and it shows. Deteriorated housing stock, limited health care facilities (few primary care MDs), crowded and aged mass transit, and the lowest proportion of park-to-people ratio in any US urban area ... these are just a few of the most obvious conditions of Bronx urban poverty. I should add: The public schools are in a disgraceful condition. (The good judge attended a Catholic school. She, like Bloomberg, most the City Council, even many members of the School Board, eschew public school education for their own, as does President Obama.)
While the NYTimes highlights the upscale culinary trends at the new billion-dollar taxpayer-supported Yankee Stadium, located in S. Bronx, right outside the stadium lives an impoverished population that shops in rundown, overpriced markets, and where elderly centers are shuttered, bus depots are spilling over and massive recycling centers dump and churn garbage within blocks of apartments.. Asthma rates for kids areoff the charts. And by the way, hardly anyone in the neighborhood can afford to attend the Bronx Bomber games.


Judge Sotomayor took her sterling credentials from Princeton and Yale and made her way directly to the offices of the Manhattan District Attorney-- she was quoted recently as saying that she learned as a prosecutor that poor minorities suffer a great deal from crime.


The crime that I see in S. Bronx is carried out mostly by the appallingly overt criminal acts of some of the worst landlords in the US. I have personally reviewed cases of elderly black residents removed from their apartments by the outright criminal fraud of landlords. No Manhattan assistant DA works those cases. I suppose in these days when millions of Americans are losing their homes the evictions of some poor Bronx blacks hardly registers... still, just a few miles south, in midtown Manhattan, the finest law firms are housed, espousing the rule of law and whose partners sit on the boards of the leading human rights groups. To them, Sotomayor is a colleague.
Manhattan DA's do gain a profile which explains why those positions are much sought-after by young, establishment-oriented law grads .. and it comes as no surprise that she came to the attention of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. At the time, Moynihan had a deal with Senator D'Amato by which they rotated federal court selections. Moynihan chose her.


Which brings us back to minorities being the targets of crime. The Moynihan view is that minorities-committing-crimes-on-minorities is the natural consequence of a "tangle of pathology" in minority communities, one that defied, as he explained to me, "all economics". Call it character affliction, cultural prediliction or whatever, rest assured that it doesn't apply to Bernard Madoff or the thousands of other (mostly white) crooks who report to work regularly on Wall Street. Talk about a mugging. Wall Street, for those unfamiliar with NYC, is a short walk from tony Greenwich Village, where Judge Sotomayor owns a condo.
You start to get the idea about the "real life" experiences she and Obama have been referring to, by way of touting her breadth as a jurist. In a world where we all need to learn to live within our means, where our minority president publicly excoriates subprime borrowers for buying beyond their means, where promises of "good jobs" are truly empty, where the books are cooked and soggy, where living wages are off the media agenda, where trillions are being poured through financial institutions, replete with retention bonus filters, what's left for the people of the Bronx? Justice Sotomayor.

Judge Sotomayor took her sterling credentials from Princeton and Yale and made her way directly to the offices of the Manhattan District Attorney-- she was quoted recently as saying that she learned as a prosecutor that poor minorities suffer a great deal from crime.
The crime that I see in S. Bronx is carried out mostly by the appallingly overt criminal acts of some of the worst landlords in the US. I have personally reviewed cases of elderly black residents removed from their apartments by the outright criminal fraud of landlords. No Manhattan assistant DA works those cases. I suppose in these days when millions of Americans are losing their homes the evictions of some poor Bronx blacks hardly registers... still, just a few miles south, in midtown Manhattan, the finest law firms are housed, espousing the rule of law and whose partners sit on the boards of the leading human rights groups. To them, Sotomayor is a colleague.
Manhattan DA's do gain a profile which explains why those positions are much sought-after by young, establishment-oriented law grads .. and it comes as no surprise that she came to the attention of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. At the time, Moynihan had a deal with Senator D'Amato by which they rotated federal court selections. Moynihan chose her.
Which brings us back to minorities being the targets of crime. The Moynihan view is that minorities-committing-crimes-on-minorities is the natural consequence of a "tangle of pathology" in minority communities, one that defied, as he explained to me, "all economics". Call it character affliction, cultural prediliction or whatever, rest assured that it doesn't apply to Bernard Madoff or the thousands of other (mostly white) crooks who report to work regularly on Wall Street. Talk about a mugging. Wall Street, for those unfamiliar with NYC, is a short walk from tony Greenwich Village, where Judge Sotomayor owns a condo.
You start to get the idea about the "real life" experiences she and Obama have been referring to, by way of touting her breadth as a jurist. In a world where we all need to learn to live within our means, where our minority president publicly excoriates subprime borrowers for buying beyond their means, where promises of "good jobs" are truly empty, where the books are cooked and soggy, where living wages are off the media agenda, where trillions are being poured through financial institutions, replete with retention bonus filters, what's left for the people of the Bronx? Justice Sotomayor.


I doubt that conservatives are going crazy over ethical reciprocity. More likely they're worried about making 'empathy' a significant factor in legal decisions. They know perfectly well that this is just a euphemisim for favouring the political positions of the progressive left. Moreover, it's certainly plausible that if a judge who appeals to empathy would make a judgement that is different from one made by a judge who does not appeal to empathy, then the empathetic judge is not judging purely according to the law. Doesn't that seem like a reasonable thing to be worried about?

Now, you're certainly right that Confucius would value non-legal virtues such as empathy, reciprocity, etc. in a judge; but that's because he wouldn't think that judges should be mere interpreters of law, but should make their determinations based on what seems fair or proper at the time. Confucius' attitude to law is so different from ours that he even argues that any laws that do exist should not be published and made known to the common people as it will just make them immoral! (Analects 2.3) This, to put it mildly, is a different view of the role of law from the American view. Perhaps Sonia Sotomayor's empathy would be a valuable thing in a Confucian system, but she's actually supposed to be a nominee to the top rank of the American (non-Confucian) system.

IMO, I think a Confucian might say something like: "shu" is not necessary for a person to know _what_ the law/ritual says, but to know how to apply it correctly in a particular case. I wonder whether this holds here. Is empathy here supposed to affect how Sotomayor understands what the law says, or how to apply it in specific cases? I would guess that using the process of shu in order to determine the answer in these two situations would not be the same.

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