GOP blocks vote on Obama nominee

By John O'Brien | May 23, 2011


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Republicans in the U.S. Senate filibustered the nomination of a law professor to a federal appeals court last week.

A vote to bring the nomination of Stanford's Goodwin Liu to a vote fell short of the 60 required on Thursday, two weeks after Republicans failed to gain enough votes to filibuster one of President Barack Obama's other controversial nominees, Jack McConnell.

McConnell was nominated to a district court in Rhode Island, while Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit hears appeals from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Marina Islands.
"Republicans have demonstrated a great deal of cooperation in moving consensus nominees through the Senate confirmation process," said Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The problem is that Mr. Liu is far from a consensus nominee.

"After his nomination was returned to the White House twice last year, the President failed to learn that Mr. Liu was not a nominee who could earn the needed support from 60 members on both sides of the aisle.

"It's now time for the President to send to Capitol Hill a consensus nominee that the members of the Senate can agree on, instead of insisting on moving forward with controversial nominees that are completely out of the mainstream of America."
Liu has been criticized for his writings, with some feeling he would be an activist judge.

"The problem of Professor Liu is he has never practiced law. He's lived in, I think, an unreal world. His writings are beyond anything I've ever seen in justifying the 'evolving Constitution' theory. It's just remarkable," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said.

"I think everybody could agree that a judge takes an oath to faithfully follow the law, faithfully serve under the Constitution and under the laws of the United States. If the judge has a philosophy of judging that allows him to update based on cultural changes and advancements and all kinds of evolving standards, at some point they're so untethered from reality, so untethered from law, that they've moved judging from a law practice, an act of lawfulness, to an act of politics, and party and ideology and religion and sociology and whatever's in their head. And judges have never been empowered to do that. Judges are empowered to serve faithfully under the Constitution."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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