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  • Goodwin Liu: Obama’s Most Radical Judicial Nominee

    It is difficult to imagine the Ninth Circuit as any more radically liberal than it already is. Despite a few stellar judges, the Court is full of liberal activists who have earned it the reputation of having the highest Supreme Court reversal rate of any court in the nation.  But, with his latest judicial nominee, President Obama just may do what seemed impossible.

    There are many red flags in the judicial record of Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, who is Associate Dean at the University of California Berkeley Law School.  Here are just a few highlights.

    • Judicial Philosophy: Though Liu has stressed “constitutional fidelity” in several articles, he has also stated that he “envisions the judiciary…as a culturally situated interpreter of social meaning.”  While this statement makes it ever so clear that Liu is an academic, it also makes clear that he does not understand the judiciary’s role.  Judges are not interpreters of “social meaning.”  They are interpreters of the Constitution and laws.  Regrettably, it is just this sort of loose theory that allows judges to ignore the plain and ordinary meaning of the Constitution and statutes, and to instead replace it with what they personally think is best based upon their subjective interpretation of “social meaning.”
    • Constitutional Welfare Rights: Liu has a strong penchant for redistribution, and it is clear that he believes judges should play a role in it.  In an article titled, “Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights,” he lays out his vision for the creation of a constitutional right to welfare.  He desires a “reinvigorated public dialogue” about “our commitments to mutual aid and distributive justice across a broad range of social goods.”  Once this dialogue takes place among policymakers, Liu wants the courts to recognize “a fundamental right to education or housing or medical care…as an interpretation and consolidation of the values we have gradually internalized as a society.”

    In another article, he stated that “negative rights against government oppression” and “positive rights to government assistance” have “equal constitutional status” because “both are essential to liberty.”

    Unfortunately for Liu, our Constitution’s Framers disagree.  They recognized that these two concepts are indeed mutually exclusive: if we allow the government to “assist us” by giving it a redistributive power over our personal property and the power to control health care, education, etc., individual liberty will necessarily erode. Indeed the Framers sought to prevent such redistribution by limiting government’s power and providing what Liu considers as “negative” property rights.  These protections have already been eroded by activist judges, and it is clear that Liu would like to erode those protections still further.

    • Radical on Death Penalty: Liu has been outspoken in his opposition to the death penalty.  Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has stated that, “To anyone familiar with the death penalty debate, it is painfully evident that Professor Liu takes the murderers’ side on every debatable point.  If confirmed, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be a vote to obstruct the enforcement of capital punishment in virtually every case.”

    Reasonable people can disagree on death penalty policy, but it is not up to judges to determine that policy or undermine it through judicial obstruction.  The American people decide through the democratic process whether their respective states will utilize the death penalty.  The judge’s role in capital habeas corpus cases in the federal court of appeals system is predominantly to assure that grave errors were not made in the process—the questions of guilt or innocence and sentencing are reserved first and foremost for juries and are decided by multiple state and federal appeals before a federal appeals court judge takes a first look at the case.  But too many activist federal court of appeals judges treat death penalty cases like they are hearing them de novo—like it is their job to put themselves in the place of the jury, so that they can impose their own preferences, rather than simply review for actual legal errors.  Given Mr. Scheidegger’s warning, there is little doubt that Liu would be just this sort of judge.

    • Racial Preferences and School Choice: Ed Whelan has pointed out that, in an article titled “School Choice to Achieve Desegregation,” Liu never embraces or even states his agreement with the Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that school-choice programs that include religious schools are constitutional.  However, Liu is willing to embrace school choice if it is directed to the illegal end of ensuring racial quotas in schools.  For example, Liu advocates “a funding set-aside in federal and state charter programs to create and reward charter schools that reflect the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the metropolitan area…where they are located.”  These set aside programs should “use the racial composition of the broader metropolitan area as the reference point for measuring and rewarding diversity.”

    Liu’s other writings also make clear that he would impose racial preferences directly if he could.

    • Lacking Experience: Ed Whelan and The Washington Times have noted that Liu does not even meet the standard for federal judgeships outlined by the American Bar Association, which includes substantial courtroom and trial experience and at least 12 years practicing law.  Thirty-nine year old Liu has no experience as a trial lawyer and has not even been out of law school for twelve years.  (The fact that the ABA nonetheless rated him “well-qualified” suggests that their ratings are perhaps based on something other than qualification.)

    Many pundits are speculating that the Ninth Circuit may be Liu’s stepping stone to the Supreme Court.  If this is the case, he could potentially be one of the most activist justices the High Court has seen yet.  Even the Washington Post admits that Obama’s other federal nominees have been “more moderate” than Liu.

    Liu’s confirmation hearing before the Senate is tomorrow.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Goodwin Liu: Obama’s Most Radical Judicial Nominee

    1. Pingback: “Goodwin Liu’s America”

    2. The Biz of Life says:

      Mr. Liu is an absolute nitwit and total moonbat. No surprise that Obama loves him and wants to fill the judiciary with a 1000 just like Liu.

    3. Pingback: Gavel Grab » Wednesday Media Summary

    4. Joe, California says:

      I'm sorry, but you're simply wrong about Liu. He is not a radical; claiming he is one only undermines your credibility. Yes, his views are left of center, but he's well within the legal mainstream.

      Liu has support from a number of very high-profile conservatives.

      Kenneth Starr said he is "confident that [Liu] will serve on the court of appeals not only fairly and competently, but with great distinction."

      Source: http://www.constitutionalvalues.org/wp-content/up

      John Yoo told the LA Times: "I think he's very well-qualified. He's someone who would be chosen by a Democratic president, not a Republican one, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good judge on the bench."

      Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wi

      Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute, wrote in a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court."

      Source: http://www.constitutionalvalues.org/wp-content/up

      If Liu were really a radical leftist, why in the world would Ken Starr, John Yoo, and Clint Bolick support him?

    5. Pingback: Why Goodwin Liu Matters | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    6. Jack, Pennsylvania says:

      Just what this country needs, another Judge that deems the Constitution as


      No one should be surprised by this appointment coming from the White House

      where the thought is very similar.

    7. Gladys I. Biglor says:

      The most telling indictment for me is Obama's tyrannical obsession & determination to rule all of America and all Americans. Once again he is more than willing to play by his own set of rules by naming someone to the court who does NOT even "meet the standard for federal judgeships outlined by the American Bar Association". I'm not surprised. Rules? What rules? It is painfully clear Obama makes his own rules. Our Constitution be damned, so it is very easy to ignore any other laws, rules or regulations.

    8. Dan Michigan says:


    9. Monroe - Arkansas says:

      What can the average American, let me rephrase that? What can Patriotic GOD fearing defenders of our Constitution do to impede or deny this social justice Dean at Berkley Law School from becoming appointed to the very liberal 9th circuit of appeals, when the judicial committee is stacked 13 to 9 or so in his favor and we have a self acclaimed (read his book) Marxist potus tossing him into the mix at a time when they can run the table on any social justice issue?

      A bit long winded, however lets face the facts — how can we stall the process barring an act of God almighty himself? Do any of the judicial committee democrats come up for re-election in conservative districts? Come on seriously this is political war people, if not now then when do we start getting everyone we know involved and versed well on the severity of our Nations looming disasters.

      The Potus recently & childishly made an attempt to slight conservatives by acquainting the recent 14 month slam dunk 'the bama care' bill as (Armageddon in non liberal/progressives eyes) — treading near if not full on into blasphemy as he has done so many times which should not once again surprise anyone who has looked into what little back ground we have on this so called leader of the free world, at least thats what being potus used to be here in these now socialist states.

      Is it possible to get the Scotus to set up an investigation into his lies? In otherwords what constitutes reasons for the citizenry to act on our rights when our government is acting outside their constitutional bounds. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious, yet he just throws gasoline on the fire adding lip service to his already way to overly inflated ego.

      thanks for letting this lone American rant a short while — with a little less than 3 years left lets pray we can stall every issue like we successfully did with 'the bama care' bill.

      Great thanks for all your efforts we live another day to fight on,


      Monroe ~ Up on Sassafras Knob

    10. Cecile Jernigan P.O. says:

      by renewing my membership would I be eligible to receive a copy of the constriturion? Please advise.

    11. Cecile Jernigan P.O. says:


    12. William, VA says:

      Readers here are nitwits. :)

    13. ROY S. MALLMANN II says:

      We have to stop this guy, period. We need honest fair judges, not activists with an agenda.

    14. Sandy, Richfield, UT says:

      There are three reasons why Liu should NOT be appointed:

      1. He's unqualified in that he has not practiced law or been out of law school 12 yrs.

      2. He has NO trial experience as a lawyer

      3. He does NOT support the constition in that he believes in redistribution of wealth as well as the Marxist view that medical care, jobs and housing are constituional rights.

      WRONG choice for a judge.

    15. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      It sounds like Liu would be a good California Congressman or Senator, but he couldn't enact his utopian vision as easily from that branch.

    16. Pingback: NLRB Comes to Big Labor's Defense | The Foundry

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