Monday, July 13, 2009

Senate Confirmation Hearings

The Washington Post is running an article entitled, "In Senate Confirmation Hearings, Sotomayor Pledges, 'Fidelity to the Law.'" The article begins, "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said yesterday that a simple 'fidelity to the law' is at the heart of her judicial philosophy, as her confirmation hearings began with Senate Republicans delivering a surprisingly strong critique of her fairness and President Obama's reliance on ephemeral qualities of life experience and 'empathy' in nominating her."

1. What do students think that the word "empathy" means? Can they think of any times in which they have been empathetic towards another? Can they think of any times in which somebody has been empathetic towards them?

2. Challenge students to identify the three most important characteristics of a judge. Is it more important for a judge to be caring or a judge to be impartial? Why?

3. Do students think that in some cases a woman judge may rule differently than a male judge? Why or why not?

4. If students could ask Judge Sotomayor one question before the Senate votes on her confirmation, what would they ask? Why? What if they could ask two questions? Why do they think that the first question is more important than the second question?

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