Gavel Grab

Fight Ahead Over Advancing Nominee Liu

Senate Democratic leaders have moved to bring President Obama’s highly controversial appeals court nomination of law professor Goodwin Liu to the Senate floor, and there were predictions of a huge partisan fight.

“Unless there’s a surprise Supreme Court vacancy this year, this is the big fight of the year,” Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, was quoted by the Blog of Legal Times as saying.

Liu, 40, is a law professor and associate dean at the University of California-Berkeley school of law. Nominated in February 2010, he has faced Republican opposition and stalling tactics over what some criticized as his liberal scholarly writings and lack of experience to serve on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a Politico article reported.

A vote on cutting off general debate is expected Thursday. The motion would require 60 votes to pass. Democrats control 53 votes in the Senate and would need some Republican support to overcome a potential filibuster and get an up-or-down vote on  Liu’s nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged confirmation of Liu and alluded to a bipartisan compromise struck in 2005 by senators nicknamed the Gang of 14. The agreement was forged to steer away from abuse of the filibuster against judicial nominees of Republican President George W. Bush, except in ”extraordinary circumstances.”

“Everyone agrees that Goodwin Liu’s nomination is far from the ‘extraordinary circumstance’ that would warrant a filibuster. The only extraordinary things about Liu are his experience, accomplishments and integrity,” Reid said Tuesday.

Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, called Liu “a mainstream, well-qualified judicial nominee of great intellect, with a compelling personal story as the son of immigrants, who has achieved tremendous success at a young age.”

Liu is considered a potential future nominee to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, he would sit on an appeals court with a reputation among the most liberal in the country

Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, said Liu’s opponents were “worried.  They’re not worried that he’s bad. They’re worried that he’s too good. They’re worried that he’s too smart, he’s too qualified, he’s too polished and he’s too mainstream.” She called him “the dream judge.”

You can learn more about the controversy over Liu’s nomination from Gavel Grab. In March, he  apologized for a verbal fusillade he had unleashed upon Samuel Alito during the would-be Supreme Court justice’s nomination hearing.

Liu would be the sole Asian-American judge on the Ninth Circuit if he were confirmed, and one of two active federal appeals court judges who are Asian-American.

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