NPR logo Obama Appeals Court Pick Liu Endures Republican Jabs


Obama Appeals Court Pick Liu Endures Republican Jabs

As was likely his goal when the day started, Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu didn't come across as an intemperate liberal during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Friday.

Instead, the 39-year old legal scholar seemed to be the smartest person in the hearing room, and not by a little bit. He was all fluid logic and self-assuredness.

Thus he lived up to his pre-hearing billing. Democratic senators who support his nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco have called him brilliant.

Republican senators had their goal too coming into the hearing, to paint Liu as too far to the left and too inexperienced to be a federal appellate judge.

Liu is being viewed as a test case for just how much deference Senate Republicans will give the Obama White House on judges since the law professor is considered President Barack Obama's most liberal choice yet for the federal judiciary to get to the confirmation hearing stage.

That will be good to get some sense of since the president will soon be naming his pick to replace the soon-to-be retired Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

In the following clip courtesy of C-Span, Sen. Jeff Sessions took Liu to task for criticisms he made during after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were nominated for the high court.

NPR's David Welna reported the following for the network's newscast:

Goodwin Liu has been a Rhodes scholar and a Supreme Court clerk, but he's never been a judge.

So Republicans on the Judiciary panel sought to link his writings to how he'd perform as an appellate judge. Liu assured Utah Republican Orrin Hatch there's no such connection:

LIU: Whatever i may have written in the books and in the articles, um, would have no bearing on my role as a judge. My role as a judge, I think, is clearly to follow the path laid forth.

HATCH: But how could you say that is that your core philosophy... ?

LIU: That is my core understanding of the duties of an appellate judge.

Liu said he opposed racial quotas, accepted the death penalty as law, and would base his decisions solely on legal precedents. Republicans have not said whether they'll try to block his nomination with a filibuster.