No Judge Liu

Posted on May 20, 2011 by

By blocking Goodwin Liu’s confirmation to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Senate Republicans are hoping to define their threshold for “acceptable” Obama appointments to the federal judiciary. 

Despite the record number of vacancies on the courts, republicans want to stop or delay as many nominees as possible, thinking about a conservative president or – at least – a GOP-led Senate in 2012. 

The 40-year-old Liu is, by all accounts, a superstar legal scholar with progressive leanings.  A child of Taiwanese immigrants, Liu’s appointment to the 9th Circuit – which currently has 29 appellate judges and covers nine western states – would have queued him up for a future Supreme Court appointment. 

Republicans blasted the U.C. Berkeley professor for his expansive view of constitutional rights and his high-profile opposition in 2006 to President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito. 

So far, 86 of Obama’s federal judicial nominees have been confirmed, including two supreme and eighteen appeals court judges.  But more than 50 appointments are tied up in the senate, prompting Chief Justice John Roberts a few months ago to urge the senate to stop holding up the process.

Although Obama’s court confirmation rate is picking up, he still lags behind his predecessor who, after two and a half years in office, had put five more appeals court judges on the bench.

The filibuster of Liu by senate republicans and their willingness to move – though very slowly – on more “moderate” nominees forces the hand of the white house.  Will President Obama challenge the conservative legal establishment or accept its parameters?

Some democrats are gently pushing for a more confrontational approach.

Noting that 40 percent of the nation’s Asian-Americans live within the 9th circuit’s boundaries, Senator Barbara Boxer said the defeat of Liu will not “go down easy.”

Comments (1)


  1. rod bradley says:

    Why do we accept a dysfunctional senate? Why do we allow the club of privilege to make super majority rules that have nothing to do with our constitution?

    And they don’t even have to pay a human price by actually going to the trouble to fillibuster — the threat is enough. They aren’t even willing to earn the perverse results of this cozy club “rule” which once had the point of gentleman’s discretion in use. Long gone.

    Alas, I wish Senator Boxer was correct. But it has already gone down easy. Along with all the other obstructionist Republican moves.

    Insanity has become institutionalized, bought and paid for by “money is free speech” — one dollar one vote. No end in sight.

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