03.31.2010 0

Liu Guilty by Omission

  • On: 04/08/2010 09:38:30
  • In: Appointments
  • By Robert Romano

    The failure by Barack Obama’s nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Goodwin Liu to initially provide 117 items asked for by the Senate Judiciary Committee, including speeches, publications, and other background materials offers yet one more reason why he should be rejected by the Senate.

    According to a letter from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and other Senate Judiciary Republicans, missing from the nominee’s questionnaire was “1) Professor Liu’s commencement speech to UC Berkeley Law; (2) his participation in a panel entitled ‘What the 2008 Election Will Mean for the Supreme Court’; (3) his participation in a presentation entitled ‘The Fate of Affirmative Action from the O’Connor Court to the Roberts Court’; (4) his participation in an event co-sponsored by La Raza and the Center for Social Justice at Berkeley entitled ‘Mendez v. Westminster: 1946—A California Look at Brown v. Board of Education’; and (5) his participation in a conference on school funding.”

    In the least, Liu’s views on prominent issues facing the Supreme Court, affirmative action, Brown v. Board of Education, and other items are quite relevant to determining Liu’s qualifications as a judge and his prejudices as an activist.

    The final item in that list pursuant to school funding is particularly relevant, however. As ALG News has previously reported, Liu’s writings suggest he views education and health care as “welfare rights” that courts should have a role in distributing.

    In truth, no other nominee more broadly reflects the true judicial philosophy of Barack Obama than Goodwin Liu. As was revealed in his 2001 WBEZ public radio interview, then-Illinois State Senator Obama lamented that the Warren Court did not “break us free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution” and had “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of the wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”

    So, in the least, Senate Republicans should get their hands on any information demonstrating that Liu shares Obama’s views — because those alone ought to be necessarily disqualifying, Obama’s election to the highest office in the land notwithstanding.

    Does Liu have something to hide? His omissions did continue even after Republicans demanded everything, as noted by the letter, “on March 31, it was reported that Professor Liu failed to include his participation in a panel entitled ‘The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education’ at the American Constitution Society’s (ACS) 2004 national convention. At the time of his participation, Professor Liu was a member of ACS’ board, his academic work focused heavily on Brown, and the panel discussion marked the 50th anniversary of Brown. Moreover, a transcript of the event can be found through an internet search. Nevertheless, Professor Liu failed to identify his participation in and/or provide a transcript of this panel discussion in his Questionnaire.”

    Although Liu has since provided many of the materials, this was only because Senate Republicans insisted that the information be provided upon discovery in some instances. He has since apologized and claimed that he “made a good faith effort to track down all of my publications and speeches over the years.” Committee Republicans acted responsibly in demanding the information, and now are requesting more time to review the documents, which were sporadically turned in over the past month.

    Liu submitted his original questionnaire on the February 24th, and according to the letter, Republicans asked for further information on March 8th. Then, on March 16th, he provided a transcript of the Berkeley commencement speech identified in his questionnaire, but had not included, along with his first questionnaire supplement, which included only one additional item: a statement Professor Liu co-signed regarding California’s Proposition 8.

    It goes on. On March 20th, Liu put in a second supplement that included six new publications, speeches or talks not included in the original questionnaire, and one additional video from a panel that had been mentioned in his first filing. On March 23rd, Republican Committee staff identified the school funding conference Liu had participated in, which was finally included in the third supplement provided on April 5th.

    In the letter, Senator Sessions and Senate Judiciary Republicans charged that “Professor Liu’s unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying and has placed his nomination in jeopardy.” As well it should.

    Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson noted yesterday, “Goodwin Liu’s lack of candor in filling out his application for employment as a Member of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would disqualify him from consideration by any Human Resources office in America, and it should sink his confirmation to the federal court.”

    Again, does Liu have something to hide?

    Senator Sessions’ letter puts it succinctly that Liu’s omissions, at worst, create “the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee.” This is critical because, as reported by the Washington Post, “Activists on both the left and right view Liu’s nomination to the 9th Circuit as a practice run for the next Supreme Court vacancy, which could come as soon as this year if Justice John Paul Stevens decides to retire. Some Democrats view Liu himself as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court further down the line.”

    If Senate Republicans had failed to demand this information, a subsequent justification for confirming Liu to the Supreme Court would have been his prior “non-controversial” confirmation to the 9th Circuit, even if the documents later surfaced. In fact, Senate Democrats routinely utilize prior Senate confirmations as the ipso facto justification for subsequent confirmations to higher judicial seats.

    This may be why Liu initially omitted documents related to his highly controversial views on “redistributive justice” being within the proper purview of federal courts. And it may be why Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) now wants to fast-track Liu’s nomination with an April 16th hearing. After all, they leave Senators with precious little time to review the volumes of material that have finally been submitted that only further demonstrate Liu’s radicalism.

    Ultimately, Liu’s views on the law and the proper role of courts are why he must be rejected, and why Senate Republicans must keep digging for more information that may have been omitted by the nominee. Before it is too late.

    Robert Romano is Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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