As President Obama’s search for a Supreme Court justice progresses, the Los Angeles Times says it appears the White House has locked in on two competing sets of nominees: those who have traditional judicial and academic backgrounds and another group that comes from what might be called the “real world.” Since Justice David H. Souter announced his retirement this month, much of the speculation about who will succeed him has centered on candidates such as U.S. Solicitor Gen. Elena Kagan, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
But the president’s own words have made some of the obvious favorites less obvious. Obama said his choice would possess a “quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” What Obama meant by a “quality of empathy” has been left to interpretation. The White House said the president was seeking a candidate with a diverse set of life experiences.