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More on the filibuster of Goodwin Liu

By Josh Richman
Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 4:48 pm in Obama presidency, U.S. Senate.

I’ve filed an article on the U.S. Senate’s vote against cloture today on the nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of Cal law professor Goodwin Liu; there’s an avalanche of additional rhetoric for which I had no room, but which might prove illuminating.

First, more stuff from Professor Steve Smith of Washington University in St. Louis, an expert Congress who specializes in filibusters. Beyond what I’ve quoted him saying in my article, he also said it was clear to see well in advance, based on comments from crucial GOP senators, it was “highly unlikely that there was anything the White House could do to change their minds” and so cloture wasn’t going to happen.

“I don’t think anyone in the White House thought they would win on this,” Smith said, an opinion furthered by news reports that the President didn’t personally bring pressure to bear this week on potential GOP votes.

Senate Democratic leaders meanwhile might have been thinking both of giving Liu a chance to get on with the rest of his life as well as of marking another point on their tally of perceived Republican obstructionism, he said.

“The average voter out there doesn’t give a hoot about this, this is not going to make a big difference politically, and the White House knows that and it wasn’t going to invest much in what it knew was a losing cause,” Smith said. “But I could see (Majority Leader Harry) Reid thinking this’ll add one to the scoreboard.”

Now, onward to the complaints and crowing.

From American Constitution Society Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson:

“With today’s failed cloture vote, some senators have signaled that they are willing to abrogate their duty to advise and consent on judicial nominees for the sake of petty partisanship. Goodwin Liu was nominated more than a year ago to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered a ‘judicial emergency.’ And for more than a year, senators have let this seat and countless others sit empty, choosing to hold our justice system hostage and subject Liu to an unnecessarily grueling confirmation process. Majority Leader Harry Reid challenged these senators to, at long last, make their opposition known by casting an up-or-down vote and moving the confirmation process forward. Those senators who voted against cloture are ushering in an era of unprecedented obstructionism, and threaten to bring our system of justice to a grinding halt. Nothing short of an immediate vote on every pending nominee is necessary to forestall a crisis on our courts.”

From Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson:

“Goodwin Liu was the most radical nominee to the federal bench in a generation, who openly wrote of the role of courts in adjudicating and distributing so-called welfare ‘rights.’ His was a philosophy, not of the text and meaning of the Constitution, but of the ever-evolving consensus of ‘how a society understands its obligations of mutual provision.’ It was an ideology that threatens the elected branches of government, whose powers of the purse would have been seized by any court on which Liu was allowed to sit.

“Senate Republicans deserve the thanks of the American people for defeating Goodwin Liu for the Ninth Circuit, and for standing up to this radical, disrespectful nomination by Barack Obama. So far outside the mainstream was he, no other nominee in recent memory has more clearly articulated a judicial philosophy that so thoroughly rejects the tenants of constitutional limited government, the separation of powers, and the rule of law.”

More, after the jump…

From Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Executive Director Barbara Arnwine:

“Goodwin Liu’s confirmation to the U.S. Ninth 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is long-overdue and it’s quite sad that this 15-month long partisan fighting has resulted in rejection of President Obama’s well-qualified judicial nominee. His involvement with civil rights organizations such as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, prove his intolerance for injustice and his commitment to fair litigation. In addition, his active pro bono service throughout the years has including representation of low-income defendants, has been remarkable.”

From National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra Ness:

“After nearly 15 months of obstructionist tactics, the Senate’s failure to close debate and hold an up or down vote on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today is a bitter disappointment and a clear sign that our judicial process has fallen victim to partisan politics – at the expense of equal opportunity and justice.

“Goodwin Liu is an eminently qualified nominee with impeccable academic and legal credentials, a mainstream judicial philosophy and a well-respected commitment to equality. His demonstrated integrity and fair-mindedness would make him an outstanding addition the court. Today’s vote had nothing to do with the merits of his nomination or record and everything to do with political strategy.

“Highly qualified nominees like Goodwin Liu must be confirmed, particularly when we have an unprecedented and escalating number of vacancies on the federal bench. We urge the Senate to put politics aside and prioritize the objective consideration and confirmation of qualified judicial nominees. Continuing the political stall tactics will further threaten our courts and mean greater delays for Americans awaiting justice.”

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  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Let’s send Prof. Liu to the United Nations. His “evolving” view of law would fit well with a majority of member states.

  • John W

    With 23 of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012 currently held by Democrats, the GOP should easily get the 5 additional seats needed to control the Senate. Democrats also currently hold most of the seats up in the 2014 cycle. Even if Obama gets re-elected, he’ll be lucky to get any judges confirmed (or any other appointment requiring confirmation), unless he nominates conservatives. And, with the Tea Party influence, the definition of “conservative” keeps shifting further and further to the scary right.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    RR, “senile” is a much more appropriate adjective than “uninvited.”