But there's a bit more, and this tinges into the controversial. In some cases, "a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment." So he's looking for someone who doesn't see law as "abstract legal theory abstract legal theory" or "some footnote in a dusty casebook" or only "an intellectual exercise." There should be "life experience" and an understanding that law "affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times" which is "an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes."
This strikes me as a watered down version of what he said back in May 2009, when he had his first Supreme Court vacancy to fill:
I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes.Today's statement doesn't include the key word "empathy." And that casebook with the footnote is now a "dusty casebook." "Essential ingredient" has become "essential element," which — pardon me for free associating — makes me speculate he's not picking a woman this time.