Last week I participated in a discussion of judging under the auspices of the Brennan Center for Justice. The event was held at the New York University School of Law, where an invited audience of about 80 interacted with three panelists – John Payton, head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Burt Neuborne, professor of law at NYU and me. We were held in check by moderator Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com and Newsweek.
The question we were there to take up was, “What kind of Supreme Court justices do we want?” The topic was set before the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, but of course the upcoming hearings of the Judicial Committee were on everyone’s mind. And so there was a lot of talk about empathy against the background of President Obama’s praise of it and Judge Sotomayor’s now famous or infamous speculation that a wise Latina might know something an old white guy did not.