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Goodwin Liu, How Harsh to Criticize this 'Brilliant Young Man'

After a Republican Senator delivered his statement Wednesday against the nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had this to say: "I have been on the Judiciary Committee for 18 years. I have never heard a harsher statement about a brilliant young man than I have just heard."

She was referring to the remarks of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the committee, whose (excellent) floor statement concluded:

If confirmed, I am concerned that Mr. Liu will deeply divide the Ninth Circuit and move that court even further to the left. If confirmed, his activist ideology and judicial philosophy would seep well beyond the Berkeley campus. Sitting on the Ninth Circuit, his opinions and rulings would have far reaching effect on individuals and businesses throughout the nine-state Circuit, including places like Bozeman, Montana; Boise, Idaho, and Anchorage, Alaska.

For the reasons I have articulated – (1)his controversial writings and speeches; (2)an activist judicial philosophy; (3) his lack of judicial temperament; (4) his lack of candor before the Committee, and (5) his limited experience – as well as many other concerns which I have not expressed today, I shall oppose this nomination.


It appears Liu's nomination is in serious trouble. The 11 Republicans who voted against a filibuster on the nomination of trial lawyer John "Jack" McConnell to be a U.S. District Court judge in Rhode Island were moved by arguments against "politicizing" the confirmation of district court nominees. But Liu, whose qualifications appear primarily to his being a "brilliant young man" -- he's 40 -- and a legal radical, is being nominated to the appellate court.

The Senate continues the debate on Liu at 11 a.m. with a cloture vote anticipated for 2 p.m.

UPDATE (10:15 a.m.): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweets: "Goodwin Liu's outrageous attack on Judge Samuel Alito convinced me that he is an ideologue." When you've lost Sen. Graham ...

UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): Here's Graham's statement opposing Liu's nomination. On Senate floor, Graham says he accepts judicial candidates who have differing views, but there is no excuse for impugning the motives and reputations of conservative judicial nominees.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.