WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thirteen months into his presidency, Barack Obama finally gave liberal supporters the kind of judicial nominee they had sought and conservatives feared.
Goodwin Liu, 39, is an unabashed liberal legal scholar who, if confirmed, could become a force on the federal appeals court for decades. There's talk that in time, the Rhodes Scholar, former high court clerk and current assistant dean and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, could be the first person of Asian descent chosen for the Supreme Court.
"I can easily imagine him" as a high court nominee, said Erwin Chemerinsky, a Liu supporter and dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine.
Obama's choice of Liu for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco drew quick and vociferous criticism from conservatives. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Liu as "far outside the mainstream of American jurisprudence."
For the first time, Obama seemed to be taking a page from the playbook of recent Republican presidents who nominated conservatives in their 30s and 40s with the expectation they would have enduring influence in setting policy on the federal bench.