Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Your Dream Supreme Court Justice: Goodwin Liu

Goodwin Liu

So, for those of you that believe we can work within the system to make the change we hope to see and also consider yourself a progressive, I have a task for you. Call your senator (if he or she is Republican) and kindly ask he/she to not vote to filibuster the nomination of Goodwin Liu. Who you say? Your dream Supreme Court Justice, that's who. "But wait, I haven't heard of a Supreme Court opening." That's because Goodwin Liu has been nominated to the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals. He is forty years old, Asian American, and considered by some to be the most liberal judge nominated to the federal bench in some time. Now, let's be clear, Liu is not William Kunstler. He is however, undoubtedly progressive. He's also a graduate of Yale Law School and a Rhodes Scholar. Did I mention that he is forty years old? In other words, if nominated to the 9th circuit, Liu stands an excellent chance of being the first Asian American to be nominated to The Supreme Court. This is why Republicans are scared of him. He was nominated last year and spent an entire year waiting for a vote, and although he was approved (along party lines) by the Judiciary Committee, he never made it to the Senate Floor. His nomination lapsed. At the beginning of the year, Obama nominated him again and he was approved by the Judiciary Committee again, along party lines again. But now, just this evening, HarryReid brought Liu's name to the Senate Floor for the first time. This means in the next day or two, Liu should get an up or down vote in the senate unless...

He is filibustered. Assuming all Democrats vote against the filibuster, they still need seven republicans to join them. Now this is tricky because Republicans prefer to block senators behind closed doors. Many of them are on record as saying they are opposed to filibusters of court nominees. This was evidenced recently when the senate approved Edward Chen and Jack McConnell, two other controversial Federal Court Nominees. Several Republicans joined the Dems in voting against a filibuster. Liu is a little more controversial for a few reasons. He is eminently qualified. That's right; he has impeccable credentials and received the highest rating possible from the American Bar Association. He also has the support of many Republicans not in the Senate, most notably Kenneth Starr (yes that Kenneth Starr). So why does this make him controversial? He would be so hard to defeat down the road as a potential Supreme Court Nominee. Republicans know this and are scared to death. Some see him as a liberal equivalent of Antonin Scalia.

People have said that Liu supports reparations, same sex marriage and recognizes a constitutional right to welfare. Some of these things are true; he is almost certainly in favor of important issues like gay marriage and a woman's right to choose. But some of the assertions about him are inaccurate, like his support for reparations. These exaggerations have been created to paint him as a radical extremist.

One of the other reasons that Republicans don't like Liu is because he had this to say about current Supreme Court Justice and G.W. Bush nominee Samuel Alito:

“Judge Alito’s record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse … where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man,” Liu wrote. “I humbly submit that this is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be.”

If you're a progressive that still believes our system can be repaired you're probably not a fan of Samuel Alito and you probably are a fan of Goodwin Liu. If I'm right, today might be the day that you want to call your republican senator or your cousin that has a Republican senator. Just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Victorio. As a constitutional junky Goodwin Liu would be a dream justice. By that I mean the most progressive I can dream of having any chance of actually being nominated. Now the fact that a potential judge isn't blatantly racist, homophobic, classist and pro-torture classifies as them as radical and makes them controversial is pretty depressing. I wish we could get to a place where that was a given and we could start to have a substantive discussion over the inherent racism of our system of mass incarceration, the injustice of socio-economic inequality in the U.S., and the need for collective self-management of the workplace, full lgbtq equality and participatory democratic control over the means of production. But for now I enthusiatically endorse Liu and second your call for people to reach out to their Senators to help ensure his nomination. He would be an important voice for change that will help move us in the right direction legally, i.e. the left.