More on Goodwin Liu’s Supreme Court nomination

I’ve filed a full story on Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Cal law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court, but space in the print editions is tight so there may not be room for all of the comments I’ve heard today.

Luis AlejoAssemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, was on KQED Radio’s “Forum” this morning, representing the California Latino Legislative Caucus in a segment about Gov. Jerry Brown’s relationship with Latinos. The discussion included the question of when the governor might get around to replacing retired state Supreme Court Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, who’d been the court’s only Latino until his retirement in February. Even as they mused about it, the governor was appointing Liu, and now some people are voicing disappointment that the court will lack a Latino perspective.

“Gov. Brown has been very engaged in this process of choosing this replacement for Carlos Moreno, and it’s a thoughtful appointment,” Alejo told me this afternoon. “But I think the disappointment comes that threre certainly was a lost opportunity, there’s this larger question of will Gov. Brown make a concerted effort to appoint a record number of Latinos to the bench.”

honda.jpgRep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, had staunchly supported President Obama’s 2010 nomination of Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He issued a statement today saying this new nomination “positions California as a front runner in judicial diversity.”

“Goodwin is a personal friend and leader in my home state of California, and I have worked with him for many years, particularly in ensuring access and equity in our education system,” Honda said. “Not only has he been a leader in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, he has proven himself in the legal profession as well, with support from renowned legal minds from a diversity of ideological backgrounds. Goodwin is an excellent pick for California and as an acclaimed education and constitutional law scholar, he will undoubtedly add immense value to the Court under the leadership of Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.”

Maribel MedinaMaribel Medina – who chairs the judicial committee of La Raza Lawyers of California, the state’s Chicano/Latino bar association – said she has worked with Liu and knows he’s “an incredible scholar” with “a great commitment to civil rights.”

“But we are also very disappointed that our highest court will not reflect the diversity of this state. If you couple this action with the massive budget cuts the courts are suffering, it really jeopardizes the integrity of our judicial system,” she said. “This I think sends a very negative message to the people of California.”

Dan Schnur Dan Schnur, a longtime Republican political strategist who now directs the University of Southern California’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said nominating Liu is “a great way for Brown to play to his base without upsetting the center.”

“By 2014, most voters are going to judge Liu less by what he has said and done in the past than by what he says and does on the court,” Schnur said. “Reasonable people can disagree over whether he will be an effective justice or not, but unless he starts overturning death penalties, it’s a pretty safe pick from a political standpoint.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who had staunchly supported Liu’s federal nomination, kept it short and sweet today. “Goodwin Liu is one of our country’s most brilliant constitutional scholars and he will make a superb justice on the California Supreme Court,” she said.

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.

  • Elwood

    “will Gov. Brown make a concerted effort to appoint a record number of Latinos to the bench.”

    A record number?

    Why, exactly, should he do that?

  • Josh Richman

    From other parts of our conversation, I gathered Assemblyman Alejo meant that Latinos are underrepresented in California’s judiciary and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did little to address that.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Liberals should take heart from the idea Mr Liu identifies with members of disadvantaged minorities. Perceptions matter more to the Left than facts.

  • John W

    Re: #3

    “Perceptions matter more to the Left than facts.”

    What does that mean? Example(s)?

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    OK, here goes. The killers in Tucson and Oslo were immediately identified by the Left as extreme “Right” who were influenced by hate rhetoric. Islamist killers are portrayed as feeding upon “genuine” grievances of the Islamic world which have been ignored by the West. The shooters in Tucson and Oslo had ideologies which were coherent only to themselves, that bore only superficial resemblance to any established philosophy however extreme. Their actions could only have been prevented by police work. Sept. 11 2001 was widely viewed in Left circles as an indictment of U.S. foreign policy in addition to being the product of intelligence failures. In the matter of Mr Liu, he is said to view himself as naturally sympathetic to minorities because he isn’t White. This stance is laughable in California.

  • John W

    And this sort of thing is unique to the “Left?” I could go into a long list of the Right not letting facts get in the way.

    I’m no expert on Mr. Liu, but I do know he was strongly endorsed for the U.S. Court of Appeals nomination by Ken Starr.