By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
On Tuesday, July 26, Goodwin Liu was nominated to the California Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, the court’s only Latino member, who retired earlier this year. <!–more–>
Liu, a University of California, Berkeley law professor, was nominated by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California Supreme Court is the state’s highest court. Liu would be the fourth Asian American justice on the seven-member panel.
“He is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law and has experience in private practice, government service, and in the academic community,” Brown said in his announcement. “I know that he will be an outstanding addition to our state supreme court.”
According to the Oakland Tribune, UC, Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley Jr. called the nomination “absolutely brilliant.”
“Anyone who watched Professor Liu testify during the rigorous Senate hearings on Capitol Hill knows that he’s an exemplary scholar with enormous constitutional knowledge and intellectual rigor,” Edley told the Oakland Tribune.
“Liu is widely admired for his decency, moderation, and admirable judicial temperament. Our students and faculty will miss his leadership and scholarship dearly, but it’s a higher calling and California’s gain.”
Liu is perhaps best known for being President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The U.S. Court of Appeals is just one level below the Supreme Court. Many speculated that Liu’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals positioned him to later become a Supreme Court Justice.
After more than a year waiting for his confirmation, Liu’s nomination was successfully filibustered by Republicans in the Senate who complained he was too inexperienced and too liberal to be impartial.
In “Keeping Faith with the Constitution,” a 2009 book Liu co-authored with Pamela S. Karlan and Christopher H. Schroeder, Liu wrote that judges should interpret the Constitution not according to “how its general principles would have been applied in 1789 or 1868, but rather how those principles should be applied today in order to preserve their power and meaning in light of the concerns, conditions, and evolving norms of our society.”
Liu withdrew his name from consideration earlier this year on May 25. He was one of two Asian Americans nominated by Obama to the nation’s appeals courts, the other being Denny Chin, of the Second Circuit.
Liu has not given any interviews since he was nominated by President Obama, though Brown’s news release reports that Liu is “deeply honored” by the new nomination and looks forward “to the opportunity to serve the people of California on our state’s highest court.”
Liu is of Taiwanese descent and was born in Augusta, Ga. In his youth, his family relocated to Sacramento, Calif., where he graduated from high school before attending Stanford University in Palo Alto.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. From Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, Liu earned a master’s in philosophy and physiology. He then earned his Juris Doctor from Yale University.
Liu notably clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Liu’s appointment will not be final until the California Commission on Judicial Appointments confirms the nomination after conducting public hearings. ♦
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.