There are two ways the Senate can approach a president's judicial nominees -- and specifically President Barack Obama's nomination of University of California, Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco.
One: "We had an election. A Democrat won. And the president can pick who he likes." To wit: Liu -- a Rhodes scholar and graduate of Stanford and Oxford universities and Yale Law School who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- is highly qualified. Republicans should not use delay tactics and the filibuster to thwart a full-Senate up-or-down vote on Liu.
Two: "Because federal judges receive lifetime appointments and often serve through the terms of multiple presidents, it behooves a president -- and benefits our democracy -- to find moderate nominees who can garner some measure of bipartisan support."
That is: The opposition party has an obligation to fight extremists. Note: The National Journal's legal authority, Stuart Taylor Jr., estimates that Liu's writings put "him markedly to the ideological left of all 41 Senate Republicans, at least half of the Democrats, and 80 percent or more of voters."
Here's the tricky part. The first quote comes from a phone conversation with John Yoo, a UC Berkeley law prof reviled by the left because he wrote the 2002 memos that authorized the CIA to use enhanced interrogation techniques.
The latter quote comes from Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" in defense of Senate Democrats' use of the filibuster against President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. By Obama's precious standard, Republicans are within their rights to try to torpedo Liu's nomination.
The professor is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 16. Last week, Liu, 39, in preparation, filed 117 new items to add to his professional record, which included "some of his most incendiary statements on issues such as affirmative action, school busing and constitutional welfare rights," according to Politico. The committee's ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, noted in a letter to Chairman Patrick Leahy that the omissions at best demonstrated "incompetence" and at worst set "the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work."
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