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Goodwin Liu's controversial judicial nomination approved by Senate committee

By Perry Bacon Jr.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a controversial Obama nominee for a key appeals court post, but only after Republicans sharply attacked him and sought to liken him to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Goodwin Liu, a professor of law at the University of California Berkeley, won confirmation on a 12-7 party-line vote in the committee after weeks of delay on the vote by Senate Republicans, who have blasted him more than any other Obama judicial nominee. His nomination will now head to the whole Senate, although a formal vote has not yet been scheduled.

Liu, unlike Kagan and many other judicial Obama nominees, has a long record of writings espousing liberal positions, such as strongly criticizing the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito and endorsing gay marriage and affirmative action. But the GOP attempted to link Liu to Kagan, who is on Capitol Hill today meeting with senators and has so far drawn only muted criticism from Republicans.

Like Kagan, Liu has no previous judicial experience and has spent much of his career in academic posts.

"The president has chosen another academic who has focused on policy the majority of her career to sit on the highest court of the land," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, referring to Kagan. "As a former academic himself, the president tends to prefer an academic approach to the law.... He prefers a results-oriented approach to the law."

Senator Orrin Hatch, who also opposed the nomination, called Liu "the most controversial nominee of President Obama."

Democrats defended Liu by touting his personal story as child of immigrants who didn't speak English until he started kindergarten but later won a Rhodes Scholarship and earned degrees from Stanford and Yale. And they noted past conservative judges, such as Seventh Circuit appeals court judge Richard Posner, had histories of controversial writings before being put on the federal bench.

By Perry Bacon Jr.  |  May 13, 2010; 11:59 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing , Cast of Characters , Court Watch  
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Comments

Because his parents were immigrants and didn't speak English, and he went to college, that makes him a good judicial candidate in the eyes of Democrats???? I guess you don't need any real experience to be a Democrat. God save us all from the looney left.

Posted by: 1SkyTrooper | May 19, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Goodwin Liu is a terrible nomination. In his very short career, he has demonstrated almost no relevant experience, but has shown that he lacks integrity.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Liu omitted many of his prior statements, which just happened to include some of the comments he knew would be most incendiary and controversial (such as public comments about wanting to see three Supreme Court precedents "swept into the dustbin of history"). That cannot possibly have been a coincidence, or innocent oversight.

Liu's apparently deliberate failure to deprive the Senate and the public of his full record -- for no other reason than to enhance his chances for confirmation to a lifetime position -- is consistent with other ways in which Liu has displayed an appalling lack of integrity. His attacks on Justice Alito's death penalty views were not only demagogic, they were intellectually dishonest as well. In fact, it seems that many of his arguments contain sleights of hand, distorting both the facts and the law to arrive at a certain and foregone conclusion.

Little is more important to the task of being a federal judge than integrity. Yet, integrity is something that has few direct measures. Judicial experience is relevant not only because it reveals a candidate's temperament, but also is a crucible for testing one's integrity in applying the law.

For a lifetime position that requires the utmost in integrity and candor, Goodwin Liu has already demonstrated, at the tender young age of 39, that he is utterly lacking in both. If he cannot be trusted to complete a questionnaire on his own record -- with the clear intent of hiding things that might get in the way of a certain desired outcome, viz. confirmation -- how can he be trusted to make impartial and disinterested decisions on the most important issues facing our courts?

This nomination must be withdrawn -- or filibustered. I hope the Republicans don't wimp out on this, like they usually do.

Posted by: LiuZer | May 16, 2010 4:22 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe the POST did not have an article regarding Eric Holders admission yesterday before Congress that he has not read the Arizona Immigration bill. What kind of a NEWS paper are you running here?

Posted by: gdodd414 | May 14, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

to be expected...as was the reasoning behind the opposition..

All missing the point...sure Liu is a statist...deferer to the State....but the WHY is not brought up.

He is yet another Rhodes Scholar inflicted on our battered country..Bigot and megalomaniac Rhodes created the Scholars with his fortune to "Federate the World under the English Speaking Peoples"(in his 2nd Will)...90 odd years of global socialism installed all over the world...look at the Leaders(like Lui) that were selected and advanced..in law!, politics, finance and education....and what domestic and international socialism they enacted...like they were taught..
oh and of course they and their agenda is BIPARTISAN....
he will just "be doing his job"..
and we Americans will get to "enjoy" it..both good AND hard.

Posted by: ChrisBieber | May 13, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

to be expected...as was the reasoning behind the opposition..

All missing the point...sure Liu is a statist...deferer to the State....but the WHY is not brought up.

He is yet another Rhodes Scholar inflicted on our battered country..Bigot and megalomaniac Rhodes created the Scholars with his fortune to "Federate the World under the English Speaking Union"(in his 2th Will)...90 odd years of global socialism installed all over the world...look at the Leaders(like Lui) that were selected and advanced..in law!, politics, finance and education....and what domestic and international socialism they enacted...like they were taught..
oh and of course they and their agenda is BIPARTISAN....
he will just "be doing his job"..
and we Americans will get to "enjoy" it..both good AND hard.

Posted by: ChrisBieber | May 13, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

to be expected...as was the reasoning behind the opposition..

All missing the point...sure Liu is a statist...deferer to the State....but the WHY is not brought up.

He is yet another Rhodes Scholar inflicted on our battered country..Bigot and megalomaniac Rhodes created the Scholars with his fortune to "Federate the World under the English Speaking Union"(in his 4th Will)...90 odd year of global socialism installed all over the world...look at the Leaders(like Lui) that were selected and advanced..in law!, politics, finance and education....and what domestic and international socialism they enacted...like they were taught..
oh and of course they and their agenda is BIPARTISAN....
he will just "be doing his job"..
and we Americans will get to "enjoy" it..both good AND hard.

Posted by: ChrisBieber | May 13, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Being some what new to politics,I can only concur that everytime Miguel Estrada name is brought up by the right...RIGHT...yes i said it, that there guy was a B O OB...and really does not bring anything to the discussion, but for the sake of being informed i will research him...The party of NO...is all we can ever expect from now on...well then the party is over...and we will have to go on without them...

Posted by: janetmramos | May 13, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Republicans in Congress, as usual, are blatant hypocrites. They supported controversial very conservative, often right-wing federal judges and other presidential appointments during the Reagan, Bush II presidencies. Despite McCain losing the election, they think Obama should choose only relatively moderate judges or high-level officials in his administration.

Democrats in Congress are occasionally hypocrites too, but not to the same extent as Republicans. Obama needs, for a change, to stand his ground and choose more progressives as presidential appointments.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | May 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Future anti-Thomas for the Supreme Court! Young, liberal, and a great life story. And a life story was the ONLY thing that got Thomas on the Court...oops, I forgot, and the color of his skin. Conservative affirmative action! At least Liu has a brain. And hasn't been infected with "originalism" (aka Wealth Never Loses).

Liu should be Obama's next Supreme Court nominee.

Posted by: Garak | May 13, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Goodwin Liu is beyond question a wonderful addition to the United States Court of Appeals. I simply cannot understand how conservative politicians can savage a judicial candidate who has spent his life writing and advocating for freedom and civil liberty. I'm certain Mr. Liu will not let the partisan attacks silence his voice for justice and freedom even when it is those same partisans who appear before his panel of the court.

Posted by: brethuggins | May 13, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

What is needed on the bench are people who believe in the law as a way of life, a religion. What we have in 70% of the appointed judgeships are right-wing ideologues whose sole qualification was brown-nosing 43 and his yes-men.

Right-wing ideologues control SCOTUS at the moment, including the unqualified, incompetent Chief Justice. Like all right-wingers, though, these people are there to do as much damage to democracy as possible, and will since they are protected in lifetime appointments. None of them would have the decency to resign in favor of competent and humanitarian appointees.

Posted by: BigTrees | May 13, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats defended Liu by touting his personal story as child of immigrants who didn't speak English until he started kindergarten..."

Of course, the same story for Miguel Estrada didn't move the Dems when it was their turn to be the party of NO. All hail the opportunistic race/minority baiting hyenas -- DemocRats.

Posted by: NoWeCant | May 13, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse"

That's right, numbnutz, because Estrada is a tool. Democrats don't automatically say, "Oh look, that guy has brown/black/yellow skin, he must be great."

Compare and contrast Republicans and their support of morons like Mike Steele, Clarence Thomas, and Alberto Gonzales.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 13, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Both sides need to go bakc to the civil days and stop using court nominations to help fund raise with their base. President Obama won the elcetion and this nominee was not that controversial as oppossed to say, Scalia or Thomas. If I were a Senator I would have voted for Scalia since he was qualified to be a judge unlike half these hacks on either side who seem to act like they are doing the people's business. They are not. Now these judical hearings are grandstanding and fundraising. I am a liberal but I believe if a judge has what seem like good qualifications, a good ethical record and is competent then I would vote for them. For all you who refer to activts judges as liberals, I think Scalia could be classified as one woith his opinions.

Posted by: Brainny | May 13, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats defended Liu by touting his personal story as child of immigrants who didn't speak English until he started kindergarten..."

Of course, the same story for Miguel Estrada didn't move the Dems when it was their turn to be the party of NO. All hail the opportunistic race/minority baiting hyenas -- DemocRats.

Posted by: NoWeCant | May 13, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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