GOP sharpening knives for Cal judicial nominee

As predicted Wednesday, Senate Republicans are preparing to put up a fight against the confirmation of University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School Associate Dean and Professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued this statement today:

Jeff Sessions“I am very disappointed by President Obama’s nomination of Professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit — already an activist court that has handed down decisions striking ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and finding Megan’s Law to be unconstitutional. I fear that Professor Liu will be an activist judge in this same mold.

“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. 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.

“Professor Liu’s record will be examined carefully and fairly, and I will withhold final judgment until after his hearing. But it seems to me that his judicial philosophy does not respect the American ideal of judges as neutral arbiters of the law. I hope my initial impressions are wrong.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • AJ

    As an Asian-American I reject Professor Liu also to the US 9th Circuit for his “Constitutional Fidelity” view of our Constitution!

  • Alcorn State

    This is a joke. Liu graduated from law school just over a decade ago. He has NEVER argued a case in ANY court, spending all his time giving incendiary testimony against Justice Alito and promoting radical views of the Constitution. Either Obama has not vetted this properly, or he’s deliberately picking a fight that he is not likely to win.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    As a European-American, I support the nomination and confirmation of a member of any major, currently unrepresented ethnic minority. The inclusion of “under God” (including Allah), was a clear violation of Amendment I, as freedom of religion always has included polytheism and atheism.

  • It cracks me up every time I hear the Republicans bemoan “activist judges”. This is just code for “The damn guy does not agree with my position.”

    The Constitution needs to be interpreted within the background and situation of the current real world and not as a throw back to a world as seen through the eyes of 18th century authors. Where that current view fits in the political reality of today is the real question. The California Republicans want someone who will support their extreme views of the current world and the Democrats want theirs. Then there are those that just want a fair and reasonable person on the court rather than another tool of the Republican Party which was the quoted politician here is really saying.

  • Common Tater

    As I said before:

    Well, gee whiz. It’s hard to believe that a young Berkeley democrat who believes that the US Constitution should be frequently re-interpreted for any passing fad should receive any resistance from anyone to being appointed to a lifetime gig on the 9th Circuit.

    I mean, really. Who could possibly be against such a nomination?

    Except everyone who wants to preserve the American way of life…

  • Kavanaugh

    Liu should go get some actual court experience, especially appellate experience, before he gets put in the position of judging appeals. He is only 39. He has plenty of time.

  • John W.

    Liu will bring “scholarly distinction and a strong reputation for integrity, fair-mindedness and collegiality to the Ninth Circuit” — Tom Campbell

  • RBG

    Tom Campbell is pandering to get the Asian vote. No other way he wins election.

  • John W.

    Re: #8 — Gosh, I hadn’t heard that Campbell had an Asian vote strategy. Yeah, that must be the reason for his endorsement. Couldn’t be because Campbell knows of this guy’s qualifications and character from Tom’s time as Dean of the UC business school and is sincere in his comments. Last I heard, Campbell was holding his own in the polls for the GOP senate nomination.

  • RBG

    “[A] strong reputation for integrity, fair-mindedness and collegiality to the Ninth Circuit.” Where is this coming from? From Liu’s demagogic and intellectually dishonest public broadside against Justice Alito? From his attacks on Chief Justice Roberts? From his board membership on organizations like the ACLU, the American Constitution Society, and Chinese for Affirmative Action? From his criticizing the seven million people who voted for Prop 8 as a “temporary and ultimately temporary majority”?

    I’m sure some of his Berkeley colleagues (and fellow ACLU members) love him. But in the main, I have seen no evidence of integrity, fair-mindedness or collegiality in his very short career. It already seems clear that he is an incredibly polarizing and divisive individual. This is not someone who merits a lifetime appointment on the nation’s second highest federal court.

  • John W.

    Mercy! Somebody criticized the Alito and Roberts nominations? Go figure! Thanks to 20 years of RR, 41 and 43, the judiciary is loaded with conservatives. Guess Obama should just stand down and leave all judicial appointments for Mitt or whoever the next Republican prez is.

  • Alex

    I’d prefer that Obama nominate people who have actually demonstrated integrity, fair-mindedness and collegiality. Liu didn’t just criticize the nominations. He made incendiary comments, deliberately designed to push buttons. He is about as radical and polarizing as it gets. I haven’t heard this level of criticism about any other Obama appointee, and I suspect it’s just getting started.

  • John W.

    Law professors are supposed to be provocative, and the Alito and Roberts nominations provided fertile ground for spirited debate. Do we really want law professors to be mellow and pretend like they don’t have opinions, because one day those opinions will be thrown in their faces if they should be nominated for something? If that’s the case, the only people who can ever be nominated and confirmed for the upper courts will people who have spent their entire careers on the judicial path — who, because of their job, were less likely to have voiced politically-charged opinions. Let the guy go through the confirmation process, and see what he has to say on topics that are germane to his prospective role as a judge. Somebody is bound to mention the Bork nomination. But he chose to be provocative and controversial not only in his pre-nomination life but also in his responses to questions posed at the hearings.

  • Mike F.

    Per his profile at UC Berkeley website he graduated in 1998, so that’s only 12 years of job experience. He’s been on faculty at UCB since 2003, so that’s only 7 years of non-academic work. Geez, let him do some work at the County DA’s office or as a public defender. The administration can’t find someone with at least 20 years experience that’s dealt with a wide variety of issues.

    If he’s only or partly being nominated because he’s Asian, then that is wrong. This is not a qualification for any job. Our “obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. We should understand that racism will endure until we stop thinking in terms of groups and begin thinking in terms of individual liberty” – Ron Paul.

  • Elwood

    I look for Liu to follow the Sonia Sotomayor example:

    “That’s my lie and I’m sticking to it!”

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    As a senior citizen, I’d like to see an elderly person on the court. Oldies bring much life experience to bear on their decision-making. Besides, being old means they will serve only a decade or two.