Published: March 30, 2011
If at first you don’t succeed…
Rejected pro-abortion Obama appellate court nominee from California back before Senate
A controversial University of California law school professor whose nomination to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was blocked late last year by Senate Republicans will get a second chance for the post after being re-nominated by President Obama.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on the nomination of Goodwin Liu, an associate dean and professor of law at the University of California Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, to be a judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, widely considered the most liberal federal appeals bench in the country. Its decisions are also the most overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Liu’s first nomination, which had been vigorously opposed by conservatives and pro-lifers, failed to win Senate approval last year before adjournment. In January, President Obama re-submitted the nomination to the Senate.
Liu’s nomination was included in a list of “controversial” nominations the Senate refused to consider before its December 2010 adjournment. In a back-room deal reached by Senate leaders from both parties, Republicans agreed to allow confirmation votes for 19 less controversial nominations submitted by the president, which the Senate ultimately approved. With the election of more Republican senators in November, the chances that Liu will win confirmation – even if approved by the Judiciary Committee -- appear unlikely. The Senate now has 47 Republicans, as well as one or two conservative, pro-life Democrats, making it virtually impossible for Democrats to halt a filibuster, which requires 60 votes.
Liu has met with strong opposition from conservatives and pro-lifers for his legal views and his membership in certain organizations, like the ACLU of Northern California and the National Women’s Law Center. Liu has supported same-sex marriage and chaired what the San Francisco Chronicle characterized as “the left-leaning American Constitution Society.” He previously was a law clerk for one of the US Supreme Court’s most liberal jurists, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Liu also publicly opposed the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, using particularly harsh rhetoric against Alito. “Judge Alito’s record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse… where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man,” Liu wrote of Alito’s nomination to the nation’s highest court. “I humbly submit that this is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be.”
Conservative critics say Liu is a “judicial activist” who, among other positions, supports the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in the U.S.
“Instead of nominating an individual who has demonstrated an impartial commitment to following the Constitution and the rule of law, President Obama has selected someone far outside the mainstream of American jurisprudence,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, and a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time President Obama announced Liu’s nomination. “Professor Liu believes that judges should look to ‘evolving norms and social understandings’ in interpreting the Constitution, he has a history of advocating for racial preferences, and he served on the Board of the directors of the ACLU.”
“Republicans have staunchly opposed Mr. Liu, citing what they said were his liberal writings, including support for using international law in judicial rulings,” reported the Wall Street Journal in a story about Liu’s re-nomination in January.