April 17, 2010

From the LA Times -- Obama judicial nominee Goodwin Liu comes under GOP fire:

In a portent of the potential battle this summer over the Supreme Court vacancy, Goodwin Liu, President Obama's choice for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, faced a fusillade of criticism Friday from Senate Republicans who questioned his fitness for the bench.

Liu, 39, a law professor at UC Berkeley, is considered among the most liberal of Obama's judicial nominees. Republicans appear poised to oppose him, but they are also using his nomination to telegraph their concerns about the president's impending pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Liu "the very vanguard of what I would call an intellectual judicial activist."

The GOP views Liu's nomination as part of a larger struggle over the future direction of the federal judiciary, and senators Friday repeatedly suggested that Liu would create new rights under the Constitution or apply the law in a biased manner. Their arguments echoed many of the criticisms directed at Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearing last year.

As Rachel noted, this confirmation hearing is probably just a preview of what's coming up with President Obama's Supreme Court nomination and how the Republicans are going to act during those hearings. From what I've watched of Liu's hearing, it appears the Republicans don't care how ugly their attacks appear to be and The Rachel Maddow Show does a great job here with their video mash up showing how the exact same rhetoric used to attack Sonia Sotomayor during her Supreme Court hearings is being used against Liu.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find it extremely offensive that racist soreloserman Jeff Sessions is allowed a format at these hearings to play the reverse racism card. Sadly I have nothing to say about who the voters of Alabama elect to the Senate or who the Republicans put on the Judiciary Committee.

Jonathan Turley has more at his blog.

Liu Confirmation Hearing Erupts Into Partisan Fight Over Experience and Philosophy:

The long-awaited judicial confirmation hearing today of Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu erupted into open warfare today as Republicans attacked Liu on his background and perceived bias. I will be discussed the Liu confirmation tonight on Rachel Maddow.

Liu promised to keep an open mind and not pre-judge cases from a liberal perspective, but Republicans attacked him for his liberal views, particularly his interpretation of the Constitution. One quote often raised by the GOP was:

“The question … is not how the Constitution would have been applied at the founding, but rather how it should be applied today … in light of changing needs, conditions and understandings of our society.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., criticized Liu for his criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito. He then attacked Liu on his lack of experience, asking “Have you argued any case before the Supreme Court or the court of appeals?”

Liu has never argued before the Supreme Court and only argued once before an appellate court.

However, arguing before the Supreme Court is hardly a criteria for judicial confirmation since only a small percentage of nominees have appeared before the Court. Such arguments have little to do with the lawyers but the cases and the interest of justices in a given issue at a given time. If Supreme Court argument were a criteria, ninety-eight percent of the GOP nominees would have failed.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. D-Vt., seemed genuinely ticked. He and other Democrats agreed to accept claims of impartiality from conservative GOP nominees. Yet, his colleagues are unwilling to accept the same assurance from Democratic nominees.

The hearing occurs in the aftermath of the withdrawal of Dawn Johnsen who was all but abandoned by the Obama Administration, here, and opposed by Democrats like Senator Ben Nelson over her opposition to torture policies. Liu will be the latest test of whether the White House will support a liberal for such positions. Read on...

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