MSNBC: Don’t Worry, Obama Doesn’t Pick ‘Bomb Throwers' for Court

Sunday’s coverage of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia included attacks on the judge as a “homophobe” who “coarsened” the dialogue. The network also offered the analysis that Republican’s shouldn’t be worried because Barack Obama doesn’t choose “bomb throwers” for the Supreme Court. 

Regarding the last two picks, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor for Slate, parroted, “The qualities [Obama] was looking for, and he was very explicit about this when he seated Sonia Sotomayor, he said ‘I want empathy. I want someone who can walk in the other guy's shoes.’” 

Lithwick added, “When he seated Elena Kagan, he said ‘I want someone who is uniter, someone who can reach across the aisle.’ So, he doesn’t tend to pick bomb throwers.’ The editor failed to explain how the choices of the very liberal Sotomayor and Kagan prove Obama wouldn’t select a third liberal justice. 

As though she were an Obama spokesperson, the Slate editor concluded, “But I just think it’s important to realize these qualities of empathy, of restraint, of reaching across the aisle seem really important to Obama, perhaps because they're qualities he sees and values in himself.”

In an earlier moment, MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon slimed Scalia: “I do think that, as charming as he was, he sometimes coarsened the discourse.” She added, “Often the way he spoke about gays and lesbians was not just out of a concern for the legislature being allowed to define their rights, but also just seemed kind of crass and frankly homophobic.” 

Transcripts of the two exchanges, which aired at 9:34am ET on February 14, follow below: 

Place for Politics 2016
2/15/16
9:34

ARI MELBER: Let me go to Irin with a hard question. I've asked many people about what they like and respect, and honor about Justice Scalia, as is fitting of someone of his influence, and as we do when people pass away. But I know that the professor in him, and the provocateur in him, would also welcome the adversarial question which is what in his record do you think was his worst opinion? Or his worst position? 

IRIN CARMON (MSNBC reporter): Well, it's interesting. I mean as much as he had this integrity to, particularly in Fourth Amendment cases break with what was the Republican Party line, I do think that, as charming as he was, he sometimes coarsened the discourse. I mean, you mentioned his comment during the voting rights oral argument. He referred to racial entitlements. Often the way he spoke about gays and lesbians was not just out of a concern for the legislature being allowed to define their rights, but also just seemed kind of crass and frankly homophobic. 

...
    
10:45

JOY REID: We're going to speculate who might be potentially President Obama’s Anthony Kennedy. Let’s say that he starts off the way Reagan does and he goes for Robert Bork. Who would be his idyllic, ideological candidate who would fulfill the, sort of, Obama doctrine of jurisprudence. Who might that person be? 

DAHLIA LITHWICK (Sr. Editor, Slate): You know, I want to be a lawyer or a law student and push back on the hypo just for a minute. Because, I think, I think that if you look at Obama's last two nominees, Joy, the qualities he was looking for, and he was very explicit about this when he seated Sonia Sotomayor, he said “I want empathy. I want someone who can walk in the other guy's shoes.” When he seated Elena Kagan, he said “I want someone who is uniter, someone who can reach across the aisle.” So, he doesn’t tend to pick bomb throwers. So, certainly, if he had his dreamy left-wing bomb thrower, he might pick someone like professor Pam Karlan. He might pick someone who is really, really far in the parlance, to the left, like Goodwin Lui on the California Supreme Court. But I just think it’s important to realize these qualities of empathy, of restraint, of reaching across the aisle seem really important to Obama, perhaps because they're qualities he sees and values in himself. 

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