For the first time since 2005, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have staged a successful filibuster of a judicial nominee, leaving a long-stalled nomination by President Obama of far left-leaning Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals without a future.
The vote today was 52-43, with only one Republican joining in support of the highly controversial Liu, and one Democrat opposing the 39-year-old Berkeley professor’s nomination.
That left the Democrats eight votes short of the 60 needed to overcome the GOP filibuster on Liu.
The vote developed when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on the nomination this week.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the only Republican to vote for Liu and Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Nelson was the only Democrat to oppose him.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Liu’s writings, “reveal a left-wing ideologue who views the role of a judge not as that of an impartial arbiter, but as someone who views the bench as a position of power.”
Liu went through two confirmation hearing which lasted more than five hours. He had a degree of bipartisan support outside of Congress. Notably, Ken Starr endorsed his appointment. However, Senate Republicans made the case that Liu was a proponent of judicial activism who sought to make laws, not interpret them.
Republicans also were concerned Liu was too young for the appointment and feared a lifetime Supreme Court nomination might be in his future.
The greatest concern of Republican leaders over Liu’s appointment may have been his scathing criticism of Bush-appointed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Liu made comments alleging racist jurisprudence on the part of Alito. He stated that in the justice’s view of America, “a black man may be sentenced by an all-white jury for killing a white man absent analysis showing discrimination.”
“This is a victory for the rule of law and a sound defeat for judicial activism,” said Jay Sekulow, chief of the American Center for Law and Justice.
“We’re delighted that most senators understood that the radical philosophy embraced by Goodwin Liu had no place on a federal appeals court. The vote reflects the fact that most senators – and most Americans – want judges who will abide by the Constitution and the rule of law, rather than holding an extreme judicial philosophy that’s outside the mainstream of American law,” Selulow continued.
“The vote also underscores the importance of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of providing ‘advice and consent’ for judicial nominees. This vote should send a signal to President Obama that nominees with a lack of experience and a liberal activist philosophy will not be confirmed.”
In the ACLJ’s analysis of Liu’s nomination it was revealed that in Lui’s writings is a book by the American Constitution Society entitled “Keeping Faith With the Constitution.”
“In the book, Liu and his coauthors ‘describe and defend an approach to constitutional interpretation,’ which they term ‘constitutional fidelity,’ that they claim ‘is richer than originalism or strict construction, more consistent with the history of our constitutional practice, and more persuasive in explaining why the Constitution remains authoritative…”
There, Liu finds that interpreting the Constitution “requires adaptation of its broad principles to the conditions and challenges faced by successive generations. The question that propeply guides interpretation is not how the Constitution would have been applied at the Founding, but rather how it should be applied today in order to sustain its vitality in light of the changing needs, conditions, and understandings of our society.”
During questioning from senators, he explained that away, saying “whatever I may have written in the books … would have no bearing on my role as a judge.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued on behalf of Liu.
“If this is not an extraordinarily well qualified person, I don’t know who will be,” he said.
But other criticisms of Liu focused on his writings on same-sex “marriage” and affirmative action, which GOP members said put Liu outside the mainstream of thought.
Penny Nance, of Concerned Women for America, told LifeNews: “Liu’s extreme ideologies, especially on an ever-evolving Constitution and made-up rights … are at odds with mainstream America and Concerned Women for America is thrilled he will not have the opportunity to conduct his own social experiments and legislate morality from the bench. Goodwin Liu is everything a judge should not be and we are ecstatic his confirmation has gone the way of eight track tapes.”