August 10, 2011

Liu’s nomination to the California Supreme Court inspires conservative opposition

The governor’s nomination of U.C. Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to fill the vacancy on the Court left by retired Justice Carlos Moreno has inspired heated political debate. As Howard Mintz explains in this article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News, President Obama’s recent nomination of Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made him a lightning rod for conservative ire, with critics calling him a “‘left-wing ideologue’” and “‘radical.’” That nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans. Now that Governor Brown has resuscitated Liu’s judicial aspirations by nominating him to the state’s highest court, many conservatives have renewed their earlier criticisms. The reasons for conservative antipathy for Liu are summarized, to some degree, in this post on The Foundry, the news blog of The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think-tank. Mintz reports that the California Republican Party and opponents of gay marriage plan to mount a campaign to derail Liu’s nomination, though they concede it will be “‘an uphill battle.’”

Despite this opposition, it seems likely that Liu’s nomination will be approved when the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments meets to consider it on August 31. And the reasons for that have less to do with politics and more to do with the man himself. Mintz reports that those conservatives best placed to judge Liu’s legal acumen have been impressed. Ken Starr, former independent prosecutor and now President of Baylor University, supported Liu’s Ninth Circuit nomination. Likewise, John Yoo, Liu’s colleague on the Berkeley law faculty and a former lawyer in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, called Liu’s Ninth Circuit nomination a good one “for a Democratic president” and has said he is convinced that Liu will make “‘a fine justice’” on the California Supreme Court. Mintz reports that another colleague of Liu’s at Berkeley, David Sklansky, has said that attacks on Liu’s judgment and temperament are unfounded. Sklansky describes Liu as “‘exceptionally fair-minded.’”

Leave a Reply