Friday, May 20, 2011

Rio alum's court nomination exposes GOP hypocrisy

Goodwin Liu (Rio '87) was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals. I wrote about Professor Liu before, and about his nomination. While Liu was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, frightened Republicans prevented an up or down vote on Liu's nomination. So the President renominated Liu. The Senate continued to dither, so the President renominated Liu again.

Liu is a brilliant legal mind. He is a prize-winning scholar who clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Rio Americano, Stanford, Oxford, and Yale Law can claim this Rhodes Scholar as one of their own.

Yesterday, though, the Senate voted to filibuster Liu's nomination rather than allow an up or down vote. A cloture vote was lost as 43 votes against outweighed 52 votes in favor. The vote exposed many among the GOP as pure hypocrites.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas wrote in a 2004 law review article: "Wasteful and unnecessary delay in the process of selecting judges hurts our justice system and harms all Americans. It is intolerable no matter who occupies the White House and no matter which party is the majority party in the Senate... Filibusters are by far the most virulent form of delay imaginable."

But Cornyn was good to go with the Liu filibuster.

Senator Lamar Alexander said in the Congressional Chronicle in 2005: "I pledged, then and there, I would never filibuster any President's judicial nominee, period. I might vote against them, but I will always see they came to a vote."

But Alexander was good to go with the Liu filibuster.

And Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia said in 2005: "I will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee. Understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate."

But Isakson was good to go with the Liu filibuster.

And Senator Orrin Hatch in a Senate floor statement in 2007: "We may not use our role of advise and consent to undermine the President's authority to appoint judges... It is wrong to use the filibuster to defeat judicial nominees who have majority support, who would be confirmed if only we could vote up or down. That is why I have never voted against cloture on a judicial nomination."

But Hatch was OK with the Liu filibuster.

So much fear and loathing directed toward a highly-qualified nominee with bipartisan support from left, right, and center. I understand the fear among far-right extremists. Liu is a brilliant left-of-center legal mind. He is Supreme Court material.

The fact that he has the support of Kenneth Starr and Richard Painter might worry liberals. And his support of charter schools and government-funded vouchers for private schools hardly aligns Liu with the Left!

Fortunately, Liu is young. Time is on his side. His star is on the rise.

The GOP also shot itself in the foot as far as Asian voters are concerned. Some are angrier than others.

I am very proud of Goodwin Liu. And I know his story doesn't end here.

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