Goodwin Liu appeals court nomination advances

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post staff writer
Friday, May 14, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Obama nominee Goodwin Liu for an appeals court post Thursday on a party-line vote, but only after Republicans sharply attacked him and sought to liken him to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

After weeks of delay by Republicans, the committee voted 12 to 7 in favor of Liu, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. His nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit now heads to the full Senate, although a formal vote has not yet been scheduled.

Liu, unlike Kagan and many of President Obama's other judicial nominees, has a long paper trail of liberal positions, including strongly criticizing the Supreme Court nominations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., and endorsing gay marriage and affirmative action.

The GOP also used the nomination to set the stage for the Supreme Court nomination battle by attempting to link Liu to Kagan, who was on Capitol Hill this week meeting with senators and so far has drawn only muted criticism from Republicans.

Like Kagan, currently the solicitor general, Liu has no previous judicial experience and has spent much of his career in academia.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) called Liu "the most controversial nominee of President Obama."

Democrats defended Liu by touting his personal story: The child of immigrants, he didn't speak English until he began kindergarten, but he went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship and to receive degrees from Stanford and Yale. And they noted that conservative judges, such as Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, had histories of controversial writings before being appointed to the federal bench.

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