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Senate Blocks Goodwin Liu Nomination to 9th Circuit

The Senate has just voted 52-43 on the motion to proceed to the nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, thus failing to reach the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. (Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the only Democrat to vote against cloture. No Republicans voted for it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to vote for it.)

UPDATE (3 p.m.): Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was speaking on a bloggers' conference call as the vote came in. He said:

The problem of Professor Liu is he has never practiced law. He's lived in, I think, an unreal world. His writings are beyond anything I've ever seen in justifying the "evolving Constitution" theory. It's just remarkable.

I think everybody could agree that a judge takes an oath to faithfully follow the law, faithfully serve under the Constitution and under the laws of the United States. If the judge ha s a philosophy of judging that allows him to update based on cultural changes and advancements and all kinds of evolving standards, at some point they're so untethered from reality, so untethered from law, that they've moved judging from a law practice, an act of lawfulness, to an act of politics, and party and ideology and religion and sociology and whatever's in their head. And judges have never been empowered to do that. Judges are empowered to serve faithfully under the Constitution.

There's a strong belief -among people that studied this over the years - Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, and certainly I felt this way - that this nominee was over the line. It wasn't even close. If I can't believe a judge will be faithful to the Constitution, I'm not going to vote for him.

Sen. Sessions was also asked about the message the vote sent to President Obama.

I do think it says to him that this Congress is not a rubber-stamp. Most Republicans are more reluctant than Democrats to filibuster. The Democrats started the whole filibuster process, and we urged them not to do it, but the rules have been changed. So this nominee, I felt, did not need to be confirmed, and I would say that this Congress is going to continue to use the standard that I just mentioned: that if a judge cannot be trusted to follow the Constitution and the laws of the United States, whether they like them or not, they should not be given a lifetime position where they cannot be held to account. I believe that's a message I hope the President gets from this.

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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.