On April 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the confirmation process of President Obama's nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This court's jurisdiction includes the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Hawaii, and Montana. It is easily considered the most liberal of courts.
It is, therefore, no surprise that a far left liberal has been brought forth to preside over the circuit. It is also no surprise that President Obama is bringing forth another diverse selection. If confirmed, the nominee is said to be on the fast track for a Supreme Court nomination. Goodwin Liu would be the first Asian Supreme Court justice. To prove that the Obama nomination is mostly a nod to a minority community, Liu has no judicial experience. He is seen by both sides of the political aisle as a far left ideologue. That is a-ok with the left but not so much with the right.
This is a test for the White House - how far are they willing to go with this affirmative action nomination in a mid-term election year? No question that Liu is a smart guy. He is a law professor at Berkeley. He is a Yale law school graduate and a Rhodes scholar. His narrative as the son of Taiwanese immigrant parents is interesting. But, most important, he would be the first Asian American on the Supreme Court, if that is pursued. Remember the constant narrative of Sonia Sotomayor's life story?
A troubling past has surfaced to concern Republicans. Liu just happened to omit 117 items from his original submission of the Judicial Committee's questionnaires. These omissions just happened to include past statements involving reparations for slavery and his criticisms of the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Just happened. This dump of documents on Tuesday provoked the Republicans on the senate committee to ask for a delay in the hearing so that the papers can be scrutinized. No deal, said Chairman Leahy.
Does anyone else think it corrupt that Senator Patrick Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judicial Committee though he was kicked off the Intelligence Committee for leaking classified national security information to the press a few years ago? It's odd enough that he would be on this committee in the first place, much less given the chairmanship.
The Republican senators claim the omissions "create the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the committee", they wrote in a letter to Leahy. His hearing was postponed once and Leahy says no more postponements. The April 16 hearing will go forward.
Liu is young. He is 39 years old. He published criticisms of Roberts and Alito at the time of their nominations. From the Politico piece, Liu wrote, "There's no doubt Roberts has a brilliant legal mind. But a Supreme Court nominee must be evaluated on more than legal intellect." On Alito's nomination, Liu wrote that Alito's decisions on death penalty cases showed "a uniform pattern of excusing errors and eroding norms of basic fairness." Liu's lack of judicial experience - and judicial temperament - is clear.
A prominent Republican lawyer was quoted, " That does not reflect well on his integrity and the quality of his mind. If he's going to come to the game and play dirty like that, don't expect to prance your way to a confirmation."
Are we to believe that Liu just happened to forget these documents, or are they so controversial that he purposely withheld them? The White House is responsible for properly vetting each of their Judicial and Executive branch nominees. And this isn’t the first time a White House nominee has omitted crucial information from the Senate Judiciary Committee: Sonia Sotomayor withheld hundreds of boxes of documents, and Eric Holder only recently turned over amicus briefs that were highly material to his nomination. So why does Leahy consider 117 documents so trifling as to press on with a hearing? That from the Republican National Committee.
The recent history of filibusters by Democrats in the Senate of Bush judicial nominees is still fresh in the minds of Republicans. The fight between the parties will continue. Both sides are gearing up and digging in. From Politico: "Liu himself has said liberal groups should hold Barack Obama's "feet to the fire" to press for young, progressive judicial nominees." With this opinion in the public, it is imperative for Republicans to hold the White House's feet to the fire on vetting nominees. If they were supporting a move to the far left with this candidate, they should own up to it. Is this a peace gesture to the far left Obama supporters angry that the Sotomayor nomination brought a 'moderate' liberal to the bench?
Would Liu ever have been forthcoming with the omitted materials if committee staff had not found numerous omissions in his packet originally presented? Is his character in question? These are legitimate concerns.
It is not a surprise that a far left liberal president would want a far left liberal justice on the Supreme Court, especially if the nominee is to replace the next expected retiree - Justice John Paul Stevens. With the passage of the government takeover of our health care delivery system, this White House has signaled a renewed vigor in pursuing a far left agenda. It is who they are, those in leadership positions. It is also not a surprise that the Republican opposition to the far left agenda is forthcoming. What did they expect, these Democrats voicing displeasure? For eight years under the last Republican president, the last two years of his term with Democratically controlled House and Senate, the nation was subjected to unbelievably vile and strident rhetoric against anything perceived as conservative. In California, forty-two district attorneys have written a letter of opposition to his nomination.
Democrats now reap what has been sown.