BREAKING: Senate Blocks Radical Obama Nominee Goodwin Liu

Posted: May 19, 2011 2:29 PM

The vote is still ongoing, but Republicans have eclipsed the magic 41-vote mark to successfully block the toxic nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. For my slightly conflicted analysis of why this is a positive development, see my earlier post.

Of the 11 Republicans who voted for cloture on another (less) controversial Obama judicial appointee earlier this month, all but Lisa Murkowski have flipped to 'no' on Goodwin Liu. Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson has joined Republicans in opposing cloture.

UPDATE -  It's all over. The Liu nomination is dead. The final tally was 52-43, with one "present" vote* -- eight votes shy of the all-important 60 vote threshold.  The Republican 'no' parade ultimately included Scott Brown and *both* Maine twins.

Of the original "Gang of 14," (see my aforementioned post, linked above), five members agreed Liu constitutes an "extraordinary circumstance" and voted to block his nomination.  This includes Republicans Collins, Graham, McCain, and Snow, as well as Democrat Nelson.

UPDATE II - Freshman Utah Senator -- and Constitutional attorney -- Mike Lee eloquently explains his vote to stymie the Liu nomination:

The second reason I am bound to oppose this nomination has to do with the integrity of our nation’s system of constitutional government.  In my careful and considered judgment, the judicial philosophy espoused by Professor Liu is fundamentally inconsistent with the judicial mandate to be a neutral arbiter of the Constitution and to uphold the rule of law.  

I do not base this conclusion on the fact that his approach to the law is in many respects different from my own.  Most of the judges nominated by President Obama do not share my textualist and originalist commitments.  Yet in my short time as a member of the Senate I have voted to confirm many nominees with whom I fundamentally disagree.   

Professor Liu, by contrast, is not simply a progressive nominee with a somewhat more expansive view of constitutional interpretation than is common among many sitting judges.  Nor is he a nominee whose few controversial remarks can be overlooked given a long history of mainstream legal practice.

Throughout the course of numerous speeches, articles, and books, Professor Liu has championed a philosophy that in my judgment is incompatible with faithfully discharging the duties of a federal appellate judge in our constitutional republic.  His approach advocates that judges go far beyond the written Constitution, statutes, and decisional law to ascertain and incorporate into constitutional law—in Professor Liu’s own words—“shared understandings,” “evolving understandings,” “social movements,” and “collective values.”

*The "present" vote was cast by Orrin Hatch, who strongly opposed Liu's confirmation, but despises judicial filibusters on principle.  Since his vote wasn't crucial, this is a pretty classy move, I think.