The title words were penned by the former Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman. Such thinking reflects contemporary progressivism.
One of the most significant privileges of the President is to appoint high level judges including Supreme Court justices. It’s a sad commentary that most presidents will nominate judges who share ideologies similar to their own. George W. Bush during his presidency appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the highest court. Then Senator Obama was displeased with Bush’s choices saying they lacked the “quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles.” In other words, President Bush’s nominees wouldn’t ‘feel the pain’ of common people.
The Bible has much to say about the qualifications of a judge and the manner in which judgment should be exercised.
When the Jews were preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses addressed them regarding judging and administering the law. Because the Jews were so large in number Moses couldn’t possibly hear every case himself. Therefore, judges were to be appointed to administer the law that God had set forth.
“‘The LORD your God has multiplied you…How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints? Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you…’ Then I commanded your judges…saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously…You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.’” Deuteronomy 1:9-17
Key points in this scripture include there is to be no partiality in the judicial system, everyone should be considered equally, and judgment should be done strictly in accordance with the established law.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality…” Deuteronomy 10:17
“You shall appoint judges…and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality…” Deuteronomy 16:18-19
“And the LORD spoke to Moses… ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial…In righteousness you shall judge…’” Leviticus 19:15
When Jehoshaphat became king of Judah he set judges throughout the land.
“Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you… for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality…” II Chronicles 19:7
King Solomon echoed these thoughts in his proverbs.
“These things also belong to the wise: It is not good to show partiality in judgment.” Proverbs 24:23
“It is not good to show partiality to the wicked, or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.” Proverbs 18:5
“To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.” Proverbs 28:21
The common denominator in all the above scripture passages is there should be no partiality shown in judging. In the Old Testament the meanings for partiality include forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion based on outward appearance. Any preconceived opinion that either favors or rejects a person or an issue is expressly prohibited. Judging should not regard who a person is and there should be no favoritism shown or preference given. The Hebrew word for partiality in these passages literally means a judge should not ‘recognize faces’ in judging.
This premise is confirmed in the New Testament.
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24
“For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11
“But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians 3:25
“I charge you before God…that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.” I Timothy 5:21
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ…with partiality…but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” James 2:1, 9
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure…without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear…” I Peter 1:17
The Greek meaning for partiality is similar to the Hebrew, i.e. to form a preference for or against a person or an issue by appearance.
So while President Bush nominated judges that issued opinions that leaned to the conservative right when judging, such appointments were chastised by the then liberal Senator Obama.
Now President Obama has issued his own criteria for Supreme Court justices.
“We need somebody who’s got the heart – the empathy – to recognize what it’s like to be a 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’ll be selecting my judges.”
Such criteria clearly violate the scriptural principle of impartiality in judging.
To attempt to ‘balance’ the Supreme Court with as many liberal leaning justices as there are conservative leaning justices defeats the entire concept of impartiality. This is another case where man thinks he has a better idea for administering justice and interpreting the law than God.
“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” Isaiah 5:21
“How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.” Psalms 82:2, 8