By Carlyn Kolker
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goodwin Liu, a University of California law professor whose confirmation to a federal appeals court was blocked in the U.S. Senate, has been nominated to serve as a justice on the top court in California.
California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, announced Liu's nomination to the California Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Liu, 40, must be approved by the state's commission on judicial appointments, a three-person panel that will hold a public hearing on the nomination.
Supreme court justices in California serve 12-year terms, at which point they can face retention elections.
Liu, a constitutional law professor, experienced a lengthy nomination saga in the U.S. Senate. He was first nominated by President Obama to serve as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2010. Obama was twice forced to re-nominate him when earlier nominations expired.
Conservatives opposed Liu, whom liberal groups had championed, saying his judicial philosophy was outside the mainstream.
In May Senate Republicans effectively blocked Liu's nomination when he failed to get the 60 necessary votes to end debate on his nomination in the full Senate.
Liu withdrew his name a week later, saying he wanted to "regain the ability to make plans for the future."
Brown faced pressure to appoint a Latino nominee to fill a spot vacated by Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, a Latino justice who retired earlier this year. Latinos comprise more than one-third of the population in California, according to U.S. Census figures.
Liu is of Chinese descent, but Chris Arriola, an attorney in San Jose who has been active in Latino bar associations, said: "Latinos are thrilled with the appointment of Goodwin Liu."
"We are very hopeful for a Latino appointment on the Supreme Court in the future," Arriola added.
(Reporting by Carlyn Kolker; Editing by Jerry Norton)