06/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John Yoo: Obama Chose "Empathy Over Excellence"

John Yoo, who wrote memos authorizing torture for President Bush, has penned a reaction to Sonia Sotomayor's supreme court nomination. The lawyer, who could be disbarred for his role in detainee abuse, declares that President Obama's pick shows that "empathy has won out over excellence in the White House."

Yoo also writes that Obama picked Sotomayor not for her credentials, but for her race, in order to shore up the Hispanic vote. "Liberals have missed their chance to put on the Court an intellectual leader who will bring about a progressive revolution in the law," Yoo wrote.

President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor shows that empathy has won out over excellence in the White House. Sotomayor has sterling credentials: Princeton, Yale Law School, former prosecutor, and federal trial and appellate judge. But credentials do not an excellent justice make. Justice Souter, whom Sotomayor would replace, had an equally fine c.v., but turned out to be a weak force on the high court.

Obama had some truly outstanding legal intellectuals and judges to choose from--Cass Sunstein, Elena Kagan, and Diane Wood come immediately to mind. The White House chose a judge distinguished from the other members of that list only by her race. Obama may say he wants to put someone on the Court with a rags-to-riches background, but locking in the political support of Hispanics must sit higher in his priorities.

Tellingly, Yoo went on to claim that Sotomayor would rely on "personal politics, backgrounds, and feelings" -- the same exact phrase that at least four Republican senators used to critique her.

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