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The single most important quality that unites all 3 of Obama's Supreme Court picks.

With Obama's third Supreme Court appointment, it's hard not to notice a fascinating pattern.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.


Amid the typical nods to Merrick Garland's impressive qualifications, judicial restraint, and humility, Obama used Garland's introduction to emphasize what he appears to believe is, perhaps, the judge's most important quality:

Garland's ability to put himself in someone else's shoes.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images.

Here's the relevant section of what Obama said (emphasis mine):

"Chief Judge Garland is more than just a brilliant legal mind. He's someone who has a keen understanding that justice is about more than abstract legal theory. More than some footnote in a dusty casebook. His life experience, his experience in places like Oklahoma City, informs his view that the law is more than an intellectual exercise. He understands the way the law affects the daily reality of people's lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times."

A careful reading of Obama's other Supreme Court introductions confirms that this sort of empathy isn't just a one-off thing with the president — it's a very big theme.

Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Here's how Obama introduced Justice Elena Kagan when he nominated her in 2010 (emphasis mine):

"But while Elena had a brilliant career in academia, her passion for the law is anything but academic. She has often referred to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked, as her hero. I understand that he reciprocated by calling her “Shorty.” (Laughter.) Nonetheless, she credits him with reminding her that, as she put it, “behind law there are stories -- stories of people’s lives as shaped by the law, stories of people’s lives as might be changed by the law…” That understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career -- including her service as Solicitor General today."

Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images.

...and here's what he said about Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her introduction in 2009 (emphasis mine):

"For as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, the life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience; experience being tested by obstacles and barriers, by hardship and misfortune; experience insisting, persisting, and ultimately overcoming those barriers. It is experience that can give a person a common touch and a sense of compassion, an understanding of how the world works and how ordinary people live. And that is why it is a necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court."

Obama's focus not just on judicial restraint but on judicial empathy is a quietly revolutionary idea.

Like many of his predecessors, Obama clearly believes that a justice's primary role is to apply the law fairly, or as Chief Justice John Roberts put it during his 2005 confirmation hearings, "call balls and strikes."

"The person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role, who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law," Obama said in Garland's introduction.

But, in Obama's calculus, empathy matters just as much, if not more than that.

The president's focus on empathy is an implicit rebuke to the theory — long held by many in politics and the justice system — that the law is an all-seeing, dispassionate, neutral arbiter that doesn't play favorites.

A rally to protest the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, 2014. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.

It's a tacit acknowledgement that, in practice, the law often works differently for poor people (something as simple as a traffic ticket can lead to a cascading cycle of debt and arrest if you don't have the resources to pay it)...

...for non-white people (check out these statistics on drug use and sale versus drug arrests for white people and black people)...

...for women (we're still arguing over whether a woman has a right to make a private medical decision about her own body — something men never have to worry about — in 2016)...

...and other demographics too.

More importantly, it's an affirmation of the fact that, while most Americans live lives that might seem worlds apart from the experience of the average Supreme Court Justice, their experiences should never be disregarded by or alienated from the law.

By highlighting this critical character trait in his nominations of Kagan, Sotomayor, and now Garland, Obama has made it clear that empathy is not just nice to have, but a necessary qualification for holding a seat on highest court in the land.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

It's about time.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

"It's a me."

Pedro Pascal and HBO seem to be a match made in pop culture heaven. His role in the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” shot him to notoriety. He’s currently starring in “Last of Us,” which also boasts a massive viewership.

And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

The faux trailer imagines the video game Mario Kart as a quintessential HBO drama. Mario (Pascal) has to use his driving skills to get Princess Peach (played by Chloe Fineman) through an apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom.
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