JACL Seeks Confirmation of Judicial Nominee Liu

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WASHINGTON — JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori issued the following statement Wednesday, urging support for Goodwin Liu’s confirmation as a federal judge.

“Last week, the Senate voted 56-42 in favor of confirming Judge Edward M. Chen to serve as a federal district court judge for the Northern District of California.  Now the vote for judicial nominee Professor Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will occur in the next two days.

“The Senate needs to know the Asian Pacific American community is counting on them to make the right decision again and will be deeply disappointed if they vote against a well-qualified Asian Pacific American judicial nominee in the month of May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month …

“Professor Liu is exceptionally well-qualified to be a federal appellate judge, and he deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Asian Pacific Americans are significantly underrepresented on the federal bench. There are currently NO Asian Pacific American judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, despite the large Asian Pacific American population that it covers, and only one active Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judge nationwide.”

Mori asked Liu’s supporters to call the offices of their respective senators.

Liu, who was nominated in February 2010, is a law professor at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). An acclaimed scholar, teacher, and lawyer, he is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law and education law and policy. The American Bar Association gave Liu its highest rating of “Unanimously Well Qualified” based on his integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament.

A distinguished graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Yale Law School, Liu is a Rhodes Scholar, former Supreme Court clerk, and member of the American Law Institute. He has worked as a corporate litigator and as a key policy advisor in two federal agencies. In 2003, Liu returned to his home state of California to join the faculty of Boalt Hall, one of the nation’s top law schools, and earned tenure and promotion to associate dean within five years.

The Blog of Legal Times reports that three Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, have said they will vote against ending debate on Liu’s nomination. Liu needs 60 votes to advance to a final confirmation vote.

The three senators cited Liu’s 2006 testimony against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr., which they said amounted to a personal attack based on Alito’s conservative ideology.

Statements of Support

Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: “I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Professor Goodwin Liu. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are vastly underrepresented in the courts, and the confirmation of Professor Liu would be another step towards fulfilling President Obama’s promise of a well qualified and diverse judiciary. Goodwin is a personal friend and leader in my home state of California. I have worked with him for many years, particularly in ensuring access and equity in our education system. He has not only been a leader in the AAPI community, he has proven himself in the legal profession as well, with support from renowned legal minds from a diversity of ideological backgrounds.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Goodwin Liu is a renowned legal scholar, an award‐winning teacher, and a respected lawyer. He has rich experience in both government and private practice, and prominent lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have praised his intellectual honesty, open‐mindedness, and firm commitment to faithfully follow the law.

“I have personally known Goodwin for a number of years and know that he has both the temperament and the intellect to be an effective appellate jurist. Although I regret that his confirmation has been delayed for this long, I encourage the Senate to do the right thing and confirm his nomination.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii): “Goodwin Liu is an exceptionally qualified nominee and a shining example of the American dream. I have long been impressed by his academic and career achievements, and after meeting with him today I am thoroughly convinced that Goodwin Liu will be an outstanding judge for the Ninth Circuit. He is highly capable, intelligent, and he will help the court better reflect the broad population it serves. He has strong support in the Senate and he deserves an up-or-down vote.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Following are excerpts from her prepared remarks on the Senate floor.

“This vote is not only historic, but long overdue. It is historic because, when confirmed, Professor Liu will be one of only two Asian Americans currently serving as a federal appellate judge in the United States. There is currently only one Asian American among the 160 active judges on the federal court of appeals and there is no active Asian American judge on the Ninth Circuit which has jurisdiction over an area that is home to more than 40 percent of our nation’s Asian American population.

“Additionally, among the approximately 875 federal judges with lifetime tenure in the U.S., only 14 are Asian Pacific American.

“The vote is long overdue. Professor Liu was nominated originally in February 2010 for a judicial emergency seat – one that has been vacant since January 2009.

“Chief Justice John Roberts has called on senators to stop playing politics with judicial nominees. He warned that delays in filling vacancies ‘has created acute difficulties in some judicial districts.’

“Undoubtedly, the Ninth Circuit certainly is one of the jurisdictions the chief justice referred to. The Ninth Circuit is the nation’s largest and busiest appellate court in the country, accounting for over 20 percent of all new appellate cases in the country, according to court statistics.

“Professor Liu has sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee twice for more than five hours, answering any and all questions posed to him during the hearings. He has also answered numerous written questions from committee members.

“He has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee three times, but never brought to the floor for a vote until now.

“In the face of more than 12 months of attacks, misrepresentations and unfounded distortions of his record, Professor Liu has shown courage, character and dignity.

“I was pleased when President Obama nominated Goodwin Liu to serve on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is considered one of the brightest legal scholars in the country. He is a respected authority on constitutional law. At UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law – where he is an associate dean and professor – he is widely admired both for his writings and his devotion to his students.

“To Professor Liu, I offer the following: I am proud of you. And to Professor Liu’s wife, Ann, and his two small children, Violet and Emmett, I say thank you for your patience and unyielding support.

“Professor Liu is widely respected and has tremendous support across the legal spectrum and from both sides of the political aisle.

“Former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr has praised Liu’s ‘strong intellect, demonstrated independence and outstanding character’ and even went so far as to pronounce the country ‘fortunate that he is willing to leave academia to engage in this important form of public service.’

“Clint Bolick, the director of the conservative Goldwater Institute, endorsed Liu because of his ‘fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty’ as well as his ‘scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court.’

“Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr has also offered praise of Professor Liu’s ‘commitment to the Constitution and to a fair criminal justice system.’ Barr also noted that ‘[Liu’s] views are shared by many scholars, lawyers and public officials from across the ideological spectrum.’

“Tom Campbell, who served nine years as a Republican congressman from California, said, ‘Goodwin will bring scholarly distinction and a strong reputation for integrity, fair-mindedness and collegiality to the Ninth Circuit.’ Reflecting on Liu’s many years of work in serving the public interest, Campbell also said, ‘I am not surprised that [Liu] has again been called to public service.’

“Former George W. Bush White House chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter – who actually worked on the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito — said, ‘I believe it’s not a close question that Liu is an outstanding nominee whose views fall well within the legal mainstream.’

“Professor Liu has even drawn praise from Brian Jones, who served as the general counsel at the Department of Education from 2001-2005, after Liu’s tenure there.

“In a letter of support for Professor Liu’s nomination, Jones offered the following: ‘During [2001 and 2002], and even after he became a law professor in 2003, he volunteered his time and expertise on several occasions to help me and my staff sort through legal issues he has worked on during the previous administration. In those interactions, Goodwin’s efforts were models of bipartisan cooperation. He brought useful knowledge and careful lawyerly perspectives that helped our administration to achieve its goals. But I am convinced, based on his record and my own experiences with him, that he is thoughtful, fair-minded and well-qualified to be an appellate judge.’

“In addition to judicial experts, Professor Liu’s nomination is also backed by organizations that represent a broad swath of Americans.

“His strong support in the Asian-American community is clear. In an op-ed published just today, former Secretary Norm Mineta – the first Asian Pacific American member of a president’s Cabinet – wrote that ‘Professor Liu is an extremely well-qualified nominee who has the intellectual capacity, experience, temperament and integrity to be an excellent jurist.’

“Additionally, the Committee of 100, a national non-profit, non-partisan, membership organization that addresses issues concerning Sino-U.S. relations and affecting the Chinese American community wrote that ‘[Liu’s] ascension to the bench would signal that talented people of all backgrounds are integral to our justice system.’

“Liu has drawn law enforcement support, including the California Correctional Peace Officers Association as well as the National Asian Peace Officers Association, which noted that Professor Liu has ‘earned the respect of [its]members and the large audience of the law enforcement community.’

“David Lum, president of National Asian Peace Officers Association, went on to compliment Professor Goodwin Liu as ‘a person of integrity, dedication, passion, enthusiasm, and law and order.’

“Liu has also received support from the business community, including from the prominent business executives with whom Liu served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees. In a letter of support, Liu’s fellow trustees wrote: ‘Across a wide range of complex issues, Goodwin routinely asks thoughtful and incisive questions. He is good at thinking independently and zeroing in on important issues that need attention. Even in a room full of highly accomplished leaders, Goodwin is impressive. He is insightful, constructive, and a good listener. Moreover, he possesses a remarkably even temperament; his demeanor is unfailingly respectful and open-minded, never dogmatic or inflexible. Given these qualities, it was no surprise that he was asked to chair the board’s Special Committee on Investment Responsibility after serving just one year of his five-year term. In short, Goodwin’s strengths are exactly what we expect in a judge: objectivity, independence, collegiality, respect for differing views, sound judgment. Goodwin possesses these qualities on top of the brilliant legal acumen that is well-established by his professional record and the judgment of those most familiar with his scholarly work.’

“While I have offered many example of what others have to say about Goodwin Liu, I think it is important that we hear directly from Professor Liu himself, in his own words.

“On the role of a judge, Liu has said, ‘I think the role of the judge is to be an impartial, objective and neutral arbiter of specific cases and controversies that come before him or her. And the way that that process works is through absolute fidelity to the applicable precedents and the language of the laws, statutes, regulations that are at issue in the case.’

“He also said, ‘If I were fortunate enough to be confirmed in this process, it would not be my role to bring any particular theory of constitutional interpretation to the job of an intermediate appellate judge. The duty of a circuit judge is to faithfully follow the Supreme Court’s instructions on matters of constitutional interpretation, not any particular theory. And so that is exactly what I would do, is I would apply the applicable precedents to the facts of each case.’

“Professor Liu could not have been any clearer in his statements – he believes that the role of a judge is to apply relevant precedents to the facts of each case. Period.

“I close by urging my colleagues to vote for cloture on the nomination of this highly qualified and talented individual, Professor Goodwin Liu. I know, if confirmed, he will serve the people of California and the Ninth Circuit with intelligence, integrity and dignity.”

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