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.