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3.23.2010

goodwin liu: possible supreme court justice?

There's a Supreme Court battle brewing on Capitol Hill. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to consider the nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Supreme Court Battle Quietly Brews Over Possible Future Nominations.

The hearing is expected to be contentious (well, more contentious than usual), with conservative senators likely arguing that Liu's record on divisive issues puts him outside the mainstream of judicial thinking.

Some believe Republicans are opposed to Liu's nomination because they fear President Obama may be grooming Liu for a future Supreme Court vacancy. It's highly possible that two of the current -- and more liberal -- members of the Supreme Court, justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, might decide to step down this year for reasons of age and health:
"As a constitutional law professor, Liu has an unusually long record of public statements that Republicans will attempt to paint as outside the mainstream," said professor Stephen I. Vladeck of American University.

"But given Liu's young age and ethnicity, I suspect the Republicans are also worried that he will be a tantalizing prospect for the Supreme Court in a few years, a possibility that would only be bolstered by a stint on the Court of Appeals."

Liu, 39, is the son of Taiwanese immigrants.

For the first time in Supreme Court history, all the current sitting justices have previously served as federal circuit judges.

"This is a test case," said Vladek. "Most of the early Obama nominees were tried-and-true moderate judges with extensive experience on district courts. While Liu is not the first non-judge to be nominated by the president, he is probably the most prominent liberal academic."

Jennifer Meinig, legislative counsel for the liberal group Alliance for Justice, says Republicans are nervous because "Liu will appeal to a wide audience because he has spent his career advocating for the right of equal justice for all, not a select, privileged few."
More here: Law professor Goodwin Liu may be test case for Obama judicial picks. At this point, it's a little too soon to be looking that far ahead. But who knows? Somewhere down the line, maybe sooner than later, Goodwin Liu could be the first Asian American United States Supreme Court justice. One thing at a time.

For now, it's the confirmation hearings. Supporters of Professor Liu are organizing confirmation hearing watch parties tomorow in various cities. For more information, go to ConfirmGoodwin.com here.