Nel's New Day

May 26, 2011

Conservatives Drive Off Goodwin Liu

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:52 PM

A common Republican complaint to me these days is that Democrats don’t get anything accomplished even if they are in the majority. Conservatives refused to admit that the new majority in the Senate is 60 votes. That number 60 came into play during the past few days when Republicans filibustered against judicial nominee, Goodwin Liu, for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In some worlds, a 52-43 would be a majority to accept Liu’s nomination, the filibuster means the Liu loses.  The vote was along party lines except for two senators: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against the filibuster; Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted for the filibuster.

Six years ago Senators—both sides of the aisle—agreed that there would be no filibusters against judicial nominees except in “extraordinary” cases. Of course, that was when the Republicans were in the majority and frustrated by the Democrats that opposed Bush’s court nominees. No filibustering was done then against judicial nominees, or since then—until now. Murkowski’s ethical stance created her vote against the filibuster.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) decided that these are “extraordinary” circumstances. “His record reveals that he believes the Constitution is a fluid, evolving document with no fixed meaning.” (Sessions might like to keep only white, male property owners as voters and retain control over slaves.) Sen. John Corbin (R-TX) objected to Liu because he “would use his position as a federal judge to advocate his ideological theories and undermine well-settled principles of the . . . Constitution.” (Sounds to me like the approach that Supreme Court Justices John Robert and Samuel Alito use.) Sen. Dick Durbin (R-IL) was more blatant in their objection to Liu. According to Durbin, No. 2 Senate Democrat, Republicans are just keeping judicial vacancies available, hoping that a Republican is elected president in 2012. (At least he’s honest about it!)

Liu has been a Rhodes scholar and Supreme Court clerk; the American Bar Association gave him its highest ranking; he is known to be an authority on law and the Constitution. He has also gained bipartisan support. Richard Painter, Bush’s chief ethics counsel who worked on the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, wrote that Liu is an “exceptionally qualified, measured, and mainstream nominee” that the Senate should “vote to confirm.” Kenneth Starr, known for his incessant prosecution of former President Bill Clinton, called Liu “a person of great intellect, accomplishment, and integrity” and “an extraordinarily qualified nominee.” Fox News anchor and legal analyst Megyn Kelly said, “His qualifications are unassailable.” Norman Mineta, who served as secretary of Transportation for former President George W. Bush, wrote a passionate defense of him in The Hill.

Liu’s major sin is that he testified in opposition to the confirmation of Samuel Alito. He’s also only 40 years old: he might be around too long for the Republicans. The conservatives may not like his being a law professor at UCLA, therefore making decisions that they don’t like. Liu also believes in civil rights and shown support for individual rights to education and child care, a real downer for any conservative.

Ironically, the Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for his not promptly filling judicial vacancies. Of the 87 judicial vacancies, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has designated 34 as “judicial emergencies” because they lack a sufficient number of judges to deal with the caseload. The Constitution guarantees people a speedy trial, something they won’t be getting because the Republicans are waiting for 2012. Liu was nominated the first time almost two years ago; during that time the Senate has confirmed only 62 percent of Obama’s nominations.

Liu has decided to move on, submitting his resignation to President Obama because of the filibuster. The United States has—at least for now—lost another great man who might help the nation out of its quagmire.

1 Comment »

  1. We’re living through serial tragedies.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — May 27, 2011 @ 10:55 PM | Reply

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