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Senate Rejects Liu Nomination


You did it. Thank you to those of you who heeded the call to contact U.S. Senators to encourage them to oppose the nomination of Goodwin Liu to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Senate refused to end debate (or end the conservative-led filibuster) by a vote of 52-43.

Not only did liberals fall eight votes short, but the final tally suggests that Democrat-controlled Senate would be unable to confirm the Obama nominee even if Liu did get an up-or-down vote. Liu was one of Obama’s most radical and inexperienced judicial nominees. Our members (and thousands of other grassroots conservatives) mobilized, and we stopped this judicial disaster in the making. After the vote, Prof. Liu asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination. Victory achieved!

Judicial Watch vigorously opposed the Liu nomination from the get-go. In fact, we sent a letter in March 2010 to Senators Leahy and Sessions from the Senate Judiciary Committee outlining our case against Liu:

  • In a book he co-authored, Keeping Faith with the Constitution, Mr. Liu suggests that the Constitution should be interpreted using the “evolving norms and traditions of our society.” This activist theory for interpreting the Constitution would substitute the whims of individual judges over the text and original meaning of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Mr. Liu joined an amicus brief that suggests that the Constitution’s equal protection clause requires allowing same-sex couples to marry. Mr. Liu has a radical and expansive view of judicially-enforceable rights to “welfare,” and seems to oppose the notion that the Constitution is colorblind.
  • Also of concern is Mr. Liu’s lack of practical legal experience. Mr. Liu has practiced law for just a little over ten years. Judicial nominees ought to have significant practical experience as a lawyer or a judge, especially nominees for appellate seats.

And then, of course, there was Liu’s vicious attack on then-Judge Alito during Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation process.

As reported by The Associate Press, “Liu had said Alito’s vision was an America ‘where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy… where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, even after no sign of resistance … where the FBI may install a camera where you sleep… where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man, absent… analysis showing discrimination.'”

When questioned about these over-the-top comments during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Liu admitted this “was not an appropriate way to describe Justice Alito.” He described his statements as “unduly harsh,” and said, “If I had it to do over again, I would have deleted it,” the AP reported. This mea culpa fooled few.

An Associate Dean at Berkeley School of Law, Liu is an intellectual leader for the judicial activist philosophy that substitutes left-wing politics for the U.S. Constitution. Many believe his appointment to the Ninth Circuit was a planned stepping-stone to a Supreme Court appointment. For now, Prof. Liu will remain Berkley’s problem.

By the way, if you want to access more information about judges and judicial nominees, including their financial disclosure reports, click here. Judicial Watch takes very seriously its role in monitoring judges and the courts, which is why we launched our Judicial Nominations Project. It is also the reason we took such an aggressive approach in opposing the Liu nomination.

A Supreme Court decision that led to the release of 46,000 criminals from California’s jails highlights just what is at stake in these judicial nomination battles. Unsurprisingly, the two Obama appointees, Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, were part of the 5-4 majority opinion that is a breathtaking example of a judicial power grab. I find it of particular note that Justice Sotomayor, who was falsely sold as “moderate” law-and-order judge, signed on to this decision. Don’t take my word that the decision was radical. Here is what Justice Scalia had to say in his dissent:

Today the Court affirms what is perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our Nation’s history: an order requiring California to release the staggering number of 46,000 convicted criminals.

Scalia goes on to say the majority opinion upholding a lower court’s order “ignores bedrock limitations on the power of Article III judges, and takes federal courts wildly beyond their institutional capacity.”

Justice Alito, in a separate dissent, fears for the safety of the public, citing a previous court-ordered prisoner release in Philadelphia that saw the released prisoners charged with over 9,000 crimes, including “79 murders, 90 rapes, 1,113 assaults, 959 robberies, 701 burglaries, and 2,748 thefts, not to mention thousands of drug offenses.” Justice Alito concludes with this warning:

I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong.

In a few years, we will see.

President Obama, through his appointments to the High Court, has put the public safety at risk. You can see how much the Liu battle and others like it matter. Liberal judicial activism cannot only rob us of our freedoms, but rob us of our lives.


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