AAUW Calls on Senate to Confirm Goodwin Liu

May 18, 2011

Goodwin Liu

Update: On Thursday, May 19, the Senate voted on whether to move to full debate on Liu’s possible confirmation. The cloture vote did not muster the 60 votes required to overcome that procedural hurdle, failing 52-43 on a near-party line vote.

Over the last few years, the confirmation of judges has become a political issue in the U.S. Senate, with many well-qualified nominees’ confirmations held up by various procedural and political delays. For example, the Senate has confirmed only 62 percent of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees in the last two years. Despite this obstruction, the White House has made increasing the ethnic, gender, and racial diversity of the federal judiciary a priority — almost half of the nominees are women, 21 percent are African American, and 10 percent are Hispanic, the highest percentage of nominations ever for these groups.

The case of Goodwin Liu, a renowned legal scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, illustrates the Senate’s obstruction of the administration’s attempt to foster a diverse judiciary. Although Liu was nominated in 2009 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, his nomination is finally being voted on this week, most likely on Thursday, May 19.

AAUW supports the confirmation of Liu and urges AAUW members to call their senators and tell them to vote to confirm him. To contact your senator, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202/224-3121 and then ask for either one of your senators’ offices. Once connected, ask for the judiciary staffer and tell her or him you want your senator to vote yes on the confirmation of Goodwin Liu.

AAUW believes that Liu is well qualified to serve in this important post. Our courts need judges who will uphold our constitutional values of liberty, equality, and justice for all. Confirming qualified judges is the best way to ensure that the courts and Congress do not turn back the clock on the decades of progress that women and girls have achieved. Liu has an established record of protecting women’s rights and has supported Congress’ prerogative to combat sex discrimination and enforce women’s rights through legislation.

Judicial nominees should have views and records that are within the mainstream of legal thought, and Liu’s record is well within the mainstream. Tellingly, Liu’s nomination has received support from across the partisan and ideological spectrum. One of Liu’s many supporters is Richard Painter, who worked on the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as President George W. Bush’s chief ethics counsel. Painter wrote that Liu is an “exceptionally qualified, measured, and mainstream nominee” that the Senate should “vote to confirm.” Former Whitewater prosecutor and appeals court judge Kenneth Starr has called Liu “a person of great intellect, accomplishment, and integrity” and “an extraordinarily qualified nominee.”

AAUW monitors federal judicial nominations because so many of our fundamental rights and liberties have been established and are protected by the federal courts, Supreme Court precedents, and the enforcement efforts of the executive branch. To learn more about AAUW’s work on this issue, please visit our position page.

By:   |   May 18, 2011

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