Goodwin Liu Won't Be Joining the Federal Bench Just Yet

Next to Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, no judicial candidate selected by President Barack Obama has sparked more controversy than University of California, Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, a rising liberal star who was tapped earlier this year to join the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But as The Wall Street Journal reports, Liu’s nomination never made it out of the now-finished 111th Congress:

Among the nominees who weren't voted on by the full Senate is Goodwin Liu, a University of California, Berkeley, law professor chosen for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans were particularly opposed to Mr. Liu, citing what they said were his liberal writings, including support for using international law in judicial rulings....

Similar battles occurred during the Clinton and Bush administrations. One of the biggest was fought over the 2001 Bush nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Democrats objected to what they said were Mr. Estrada's "extreme right-wing" views and used a filibuster to block him. Republicans used similar maneuvers during the just-concluded Congress.

The fight over nominees comes as vacancies rise in federal judgeships, which legal groups say leads to heavier caseloads for current judges and delays in some prosecutions. As of Tuesday, there were 98 federal court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Read the whole story here. I discuss Liu’s confirmation hearings here.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They're trying to get the wrong Liu on the bench.

  • ||

    Was that an illegally downloaded Lucy Liubot or the original?

  • ||

    Would you like to take a moment to register me?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Check your facts, Damon. The Democrats didn't filibuster Estrada's appointment. They hate filibusters. They said so.

  • ||

    I think what you meant to say was, "It's not a filibuster when democrats do it."

  • ||

    @ Hugh

  • ||

    Wait, sry, that's not what Hugh meant, as Tony has that phrase trademarked too.

  • Robert Gibbs||

    I will tell you what everyone really means.

  • ||

    It's bad enough when judges use the Constitution as a blank slate on which to project their desires, but they can at least claim to be "finding" something new in it. But what the hell is the legal reasoning behind using foreign law? How is that different from a baseball umpire calling a play based on the rules of football?

  • prs130||

    And if there's grounds for not deferring to the Executive on a nominee to a court, it's in the case that the would-be judge refused to acknowledge the exclusive authority of Congress.

  • MNG||

    I don't think I've ever seen foriegn law used as dispositive authority to decide a case. When the right freaked about Kennedy using it in death penalty cases he was using it as one piece of evidence to illustrate "evolving standards" regarding the appropriateness os certain punishments. I also don't see the problem with using foriegn examples of reasoning that agrees with an opinion (it's common for state and federal courts to cite other state and federal court decisions in agreement with an opinion in order to illustrate the compellingness of the reasonings).

  • sevo||

    I can't see a problem with citing reasoning from any source, but the article suggests something altogether different:
    "...using international law in judicial rulings...."
    We established independence from the Euros for good reason, and they continue to be good.

  • cynical||

    But surely the "standards" in question are intended to mean U.S. standards?

  • SIV||


  • guy in the back row||

    No way, this Liu needs to be on the court!

  • Joe||

    "a judge’s role shouldn’t be limited to simply protecting individual rights against government infringement, but to guaranteeing positive welfare rights as well"

    Ok. As he noted in his testimony, which actually was open and honest, he supports CONGRESSIONAL authority to protect welfare rights, not having judges independently creating them. The judges, as they do now, would then protect the existing statutory rights. To the degree this means hearings before relinquishment etc., precedent has long secured that.


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