Goodwin Liu’s confirmation hearing roundup

Things got hot this morning at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Cal law associate dean and professor Goodwin Liu, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Obama JudgesHere’s the Associated Press’ story, wherein committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and others jousted with ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and U.S. Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and others over Liu’s qualifications and views. And here’s the Washington Post’s story, wherein Liu’s confirmation process is more clearly cast as a prelude to the forthcoming battle to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

The committee’s archived Webcast can be accessed here; unless they’ve cleaned it up by the time you read this, the hearing starts at around 17 minutes and 40 seconds in.

The spinners are hard at work. On the pro-Liu side, Vincent Eng – late of the Asian American Justice Center, but whom I now hear has become a principal at the Raben Group lobbying and communications firm – put together a glowing review, saying Liu “showed today why he’s eminently qualified to be an appellate judge.”

Liu’s measured, respectful temperament under fire; his philosophy of respect for precedent; and his vow not to let personal beliefs influence his legal analyses all stood him in good stead, Eng wrote, while GOP Senators “overreached – and they ended up the losers today.”

“Liu clearly refuted every effort to put radical words in his mouth,” he wrote. “For instance, Republicans falsely accused Liu of believing in judicial power to create welfare rights. But he definitively stated judges have no such role and that most of his writings on education and welfare issues have been directed at legislators and policymakers, not judges. When Liu explained his actual views and revealed the inaccuracy of their claims, GOP senators hit a dead end.”

“It’s clear what the GOP had hoped today to paint Liu as a ‘vicious’ extremist – but they failed. Liu is no ideologue and is no extremist,” he continued. “Democrats should be heartened, and feel ready for the battle over Liu and any future nominations: Today’s lengthy hearing proved that the GOP attack is thin and without substantive merit; it’s all politics and it’s limited in reach or punch.”

(UPDATE @ 1 P.M. SUNDAY: I just got home from camping this weekend to find that the attribution for these paragraphs isn’t accurate: Eng was the point person who collected comments from Democratic supporters of Liu, so not all these words are his.)

On the other side, Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino tweeted the hearing, voicing conservative discontent with Liu’s testimony. “Time to go back and see if there’s anything left to Liu’s opus he hasn’t disowned,” she concluded at the hearing’s end.

And Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson issued a news release attacking Liu’s testimony regarding the scope of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, welfare rights, and other issues. “Goodwin Liu is being dishonest with the Judiciary Committee, and he should be rejected for once again attempting to conceal his most controversial views from the scrutiny of the Senate by claiming that they now have no relation to how he as a judge will rule when the writings are about how a judge ought to rule.”

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.