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  • Why Goodwin Liu Matters

    Senate Judiciary Committee

    Rumors of a possible Supreme Court retirement this summer have Washington buzzing with anticipation. Adding to the intrigue is the controversial nomination of Goodwin Liu for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Senate Republicans used a procedural move Wednesday to postpone Liu’s hearing. But the delay will likely do little to lower the stakes surrounding his nomination. Liu’s outspoken opposition to the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito made him a hero of the far left. And his stance on issues ranging from welfare rights to the death penalty would make him one of the most activist judges, if confirmed, on the left-leaning 9th Circuit.

    “Obama has decided, in a bow to the left wing, to nominate a poster child from Berkeley who checks off every radical liberal ideological box,” said Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network. “Goodwin Liu is their dream to have on the Supreme Court someday. They are desperately looking for a liberal counterweight to [Justice Antonin] Scalia on the court.”

    The wildcard, of course, is the recent announcement from Justice John Paul Stevens that he will step down before President Obama’s first term ends. Stevens could leave as early as this summer (he’s hired only one clerk), particularly if the political climate continues to threaten liberal incumbents in the Senate.

    Even if Liu is confirmed to the 9th Circuit seat, it’s unclear if he would have the qualifications for the Supreme Court. There would be precedent, however, for elevating an appellate court judge in such short order. David Souter was confirmed for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on April 27, 1990. Three months later, on July 25, 1990, President George H.W. Bush nominated Souter for the Supreme Court.

    Just as liberals feared that a young Miguel Estrada was destined for the high court when President George W. Bush nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001, those same feelings exist about Liu. The left pulled out all the stops to oppose Estrada, eventually prompting him to withdraw his nomination in 2003.

    In addition to his potential grooming for the Supreme Court, there are other reasons the left is salivating at the prospect of Liu’s confirmation. Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was viewed by liberals as a pragmatic choice. There have also been grumblings on the left about Obama’s commitment to reshaping the judiciary.

    Liu makes no secret about his judicial philosophy and liberal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In a September 2009 article for the American Constitution Society, Liu and Pamela Karlan wrote:

    For too long, liberals, progressives … have been defensive about how the Constitution should be interpreted. But an examination of the document itself and the way its principles have been applied over time reveals that the progressive view is in fact the one that has prevailed.

    He told The Brennan Center For Justice in May 2009: “I would hope that the Obama administration would appoint judges who are broad-minded in their view of the kinds of sources that are legitimate to take into account in reading, especially the Constitution, but broadly legal texts of all sorts.”

    As Heritage’s Debbie O’Malley wrote yesterday on The Foundry:

    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.’

    For the left, however, this is precisely the type of justice they want on the bench.

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Why Goodwin Liu Matters


      The Constitution is fast becoming an American relic. "Progressive" judges revere it as did medieval Catholics a fragment of the true cross. Progressives defend a lurid, ever expansive construction of the Constitution on the theory that 21st century judges cannot and should not be required to explore the psychology of men two hundred years dead in order to divine the meaning of the written words of the Constitution. This is of course, intentionally a red herring.

      All that is needed is a good understanding of the English language.The First Amendment is quite typical of the drafters' language. It provides that, "Congress shall pass no law… that abridges Freedom of Speech." One need not know the drafters' mind to understand these plain words. Nevertheless Senator John McCain, a self styled conservative, with the ascent of a "conservative" Congress, "passed a law" that

      "abridged the freedom of speech." A "conservative" President then signed the bill into law.

      Actually the McCain/Feingold law did more than simply abridge free speech, it criminalized free speech. Offer a political opinion at the wrong time and the Justice Department would prosecute, fine, and imprison you.

      That the Supreme Court struck down the bill by just one vote shows how ideology and not an ambiguous Constitution is the destructive force that is destroying this country. Had Liu been on the Supreme Court, McCain's abominable bill, one that expressly criminalized free speech would have been made the eternal law of the land.

      Liu, if nominated, will betray the American people and work tirelessly to destroy the Constitution. That after all would be the President's the reason for his appointment.

    2. Ed Bradford says:

      My understanding is that for a nomination to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee at least one member of the minority party must support the nominee. Will all of the R's join together and vote against this judical activist?

    3. Pingback: Gavel Grab » Thursday Media Summary

    4. John C. Davidson, Be says:

      When politicians infiltrate the legal system, the move towards socializing America becomes complete and no longer does the law mean anything to common people. Upon reading all the alligations of criminal behavior going on in Washington, we have already become a lawless nation. The law should encompass everyone and not exempt the chosen ones.

    5. Kurt, Michigan says:

      Clearly, this particular nominee would have a hard time pulling a Roberts in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing. He has been far too outspoken on too many controversial topics to sail through. He is the liberal version of Bork in that respect. Any nominee who has a long ideological paper trail on controversial issues is going to have serious trouble getting on the court. This is typical of law professors and it is also the main reason why recent nominees have not been tenured law professors. He won't be able to skate by on vague judicial philosophy while avoiding his real views on the issues (like Souter, Roberts, Sotomayor), because he has already given up his real views on the litmus test issues.

    6. Pingback: Michelle Malkin » Goodwin Liu: Faulty memory, expedient metamorphosis

    7. Elbert, Watertown MA says:

      Professor Liu is highly qualified. Politics aside, his role as an interpreter of the established law is outstanding. He knows what his role as a 9th Circuit Court judge would mean. Stop playing politics and endorse this incredibly bright guy. He’s worked hard to become a law professor in his early 30′s. What have any of you at the Heritage Foundation done to top that? You’ve got to recognize his accomplishments instead of trying to tear him down.

    8. Bruce M Grant, Jacks says:

      Elbert, are you his publicity agent?

      "Politics aside", you say. That's like saying, 'politics aside', Herrmann Goering was a great fighter pilot. (He was.)

      Did the left set 'politics aside' with Robert Bork or Miguel Estrada?

      Once again we're suffering under the liberal double standard which condones the same trashing of civil rights that nearly cost us the right to keep and bear arms recently.

      All the liberal double-talk in the world won't conceal the fact that when it counts, Liu, Kagan and other liberal picks WILL vote against the clear meaning and original intent of the Bill of Rights as written and in favor of statist revisionism and increased governmental power.

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