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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Editorial: Breaking Faith: A politically driven filibuster of a sound judicial nominee (New York Times, 05/22/11)
"Mr. Alexander, along with 41 other Senate Republicans, voted to filibuster one of President Obama’s judicial nominees for that very reason — breaking a promise and kindling yet another row over a president’s right to appoint like-minded judges."

Nominee blocked (Houston Chronicle, 05/22/11)
Stuart Berger, Letter to the Editor: "Having met Professor Liu as my son's law school classmate and friend, I can attest not only to his brilliance but to his incredible character. The fear of a future Supreme Court appointment should not be a reason not to let a nomination come to the floor. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has done the country a great disservice by his vote against Liu."

Judicial Filibusters: Partisanship Run Amok  (Huffington Post, 05/21/11)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: "If anyone needs proof of how destructively polarized national politics has become, one need only consider yesterday's vote in the Senate on President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.... the use of the filibuster to prevent a straight up-or-down vote on a nominee like Goodwin Liu is entirely inappropriate. To justify their behavior, some Republicans invoke the Bork nomination battle as a relevant precedent, but their thinking on that score is completely wrong-headed. Bork was not the target of a filibuster. He was defeated in a straight up-or-down vote of 58 against and 42 in favor. If Liu were given such a vote, he would clearly be confirmed."

Editorial: Senate’s shameful return to mass hypocrisy (San Diego Union-Tribune [CA] , 05/21/11)
Senate Republicans’ successful filibuster Thursday of the nomination of UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marks a return to the days of mass hypocrisy in what is dubiously billed as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” ... Thursday was a shameful day for the Senate.

Federal judiciary is suffering from far too many vacancies: Dan Aaron Polster (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 05/21/11)
U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster: "Over the past year and a half, 10 percent to 12 percent of the country's 864 authorized Article III judgeships have been vacant. There have been more than 90 vacancies throughout this period, and, at times, more than 100.... I believe that the nomination/confirmation process is broken and that the protracted high vacancy rate is affecting the administration of justice. The old adage "justice delayed is justice denied" rings true in this case."

Grassley's Manzanar-like reaction to Goodwin Liu (Under the Golden Dome: A Fresh Look Inside Iowa Politics, 05/20/11)
Samuel J Kirkwood: "Just yesterday, Chuck Grassley made a statement that made my jaw drop about Ninth Circuit judicial nominee, Goodwin Liu. He said on the floor of the Senate, “Does [Liu] think we’re the communist-run China? That the government runs everything?” First off, Grassley needs to tone down the knee-jerk comparison of Asian-Americans to communists in China....Second, Liu is the child of Taiwanese immigrants. ... Finally, Grassley was taking a 2005 op-ed written by Liu completely out of context."

Hypocrisy and Worse on Liu (Collins Watch: Keeping an eye on Maine's Junior Senator, 05/20/11)
"It is Mr. Liu's views that are far outside the mainstream. His writings demonstrate what National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor calls his 'sweeping vision of court-ordered social justice.' Mr. Liu has written that 'Some [say] that courts...can only do so much to change society, that some things, some problems are best left to politics and not principle....I want to disagree with this view....' In other words, Liu embodies the very essence of judicial activism.' That's the entire substance of the junior senator's critique of Liu. But aren't you just a little bit curious about what Liu said inside those ellipses? ... Does Collins think the desegregation sought by the Brown plaintiffs--which is what Liu is clearly referring to when he alludes to 'chang[ing] society'--should have been denied by the Supreme Court?"

Don’t Speak: If You Want to Be a Judge Someday You’d Better Shut Your Mouth (Center for American Progress, 05/20/11)
Ian Millhiser: "Liu was held to a very different standard by the Senate. The question was no longer whether Liu belongs on the bench—he unambiguously does—but whether his opponents could find a way to distort his many pages of legal scholarship in order to paint him as some kind of radical."

Filibuster of Goodwin Liu Highlights Government's Diversity Problem  (Hyphen Asian American Unabridged , 05/20/11)
Robin Lapid: "Liu was the unfortunate victim of party politics, but the failure to get him on the US Circuit Court of Appeals is a dispiriting sign of something else: as America gets more and more diverse, its representatives in government -- from their policies to their ethnic background -- remain stridently out of touch. . . . This week's filibuster sent a message that substantial experience and careful examination of our Constitution does not make you qualified by government standards. Even worse, it sends the message that, despite having our first person of color in the White House, the representation of our elected officials from a perspective of ethnic, gender and other backgrounds looks pallid at best."

Playing the identity politics game (Washington Monthly, 05/20/11)
Steve Benen: "In a disheartening display, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on judicial nominee Goodwin Liu yesterday, despite repeated public assurances that they would never, ever do such a thing."

Liu Filibustered: Bork Revisited (Daily Kos, 05/20/11)
"In the end, the Senate rejected Bork's confirmation, with 42 Senators voting in favor and 58 voting against -- but at least he got a straight up-or-down vote on the Senate floor; Goodwin Liu didn't make it that far. . . . Yet another example of present-day Republican obstructionism."

Editorial: Shame on GOP senators who blocked Goodwin Liu (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 05/20/11)
"Fair-minded people who have looked at Liu's record and determined that he has the intellect and temperament to be a superb appellate judge include prominent conservatives Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer in the Bush White House, and Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr. But neither fair play nor intellectual honesty carried the day in the Senate, where Liu's nomination remained bottled up through the efforts of multiple Republicans who had opined (in the Bush years) that it was unconstitutional for senators to deprive a judicial nominee of an up-or-down vote."

Give Obama an up-or-down vote on Goodwin Liu  (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 05/20/11)
Paul Owens, Editorial blogger: "From a Sentinel editorial on judicial filibusters: The Constitution calls on the president to fill judicial vacancies with the Senate’s “advice and consent.” We believe it’s an excessive encroachment on presidential prerogative for senators to use filibusters or other tactics to block votes on qualified judicial nominees for purely political reasons … The Sentinel must have been talking about Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s liberal nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who was denied a confirmation vote this week through a Republican filibuster, right? Wrong! The editorial appeared in 2005, ... The principle still holds. The Senate owes the president an up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees."

After Calling Judicial Filibusters Unconstitutional, Republican Senators Line Up Behind Judicial Filibuster  (Think Progress, 05/19/11)
Ian Millhiser: "Many Republicans outright declared judicial filibusters to be unconstitutional. Here is a representative sample of how current GOP senators felt about such filibusters when a Republican was in the White House" [quoting Senators]

Extraordinary Hypocrisy: How Republican senators justified their decision to kill the nomination of Goodwin Liu. (, 05/19/11)
Dahlia Lithwick: "First, there are the most obvious failures of intellectual consistency: Republicans who once claimed that filibustering judicial nominees is "offensive to our nation's constitutional design" (Sen. John Cornyn, 2004) and flat-out "unconstitutional" (Sen. Lindsey Graham, 2005) voted against Liu. Even the Republican who said he "will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee—understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate"—even that guy (Sen. Johnny Isakson, 2005) voted against Liu. ... The idea that Liu's condemnation of Alito was so injudicious as to render him unfit to serve is as absurd as the rest of the arguments against him."

Berkeley Law Faculty Responds to Goodwin Liu Filibuster  (Confirm Goodwin Liu blog, 05/19/11)
Jonathan Singer: "Conservative and moderate Berkeley Law scholars alike described Professor Liu's writings as mainstream. In fact, not a single legal scholar suggested otherwise since he was first nominated on February 24, 2010. Constitutional law professor Jesse Choper said this case 'is a sharply disturbing illustration of the politicization of the judicial confirmation process.'"

The case for Goodwin Liu (Politico, 05/19/11)
Richard W. Painter: "I served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush for two and a half years. There, I worked extensively on the selection and confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, as well as some of the president’s nominees for the courts of appeals. As the Senate prepares to vote Thursday on the long-postponed nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, I am reminded of what it was like to be inside the White House, trying to help a nominee through this difficult process Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has now called for cloture. All that is required is for Senate Republicans to practice what they preached for so long under Bush: Give Liu an up or down vote rather than a filibuster."

In disheartening display, Senate blocks Goodwin Liu vote (Washington Monthly, 05/19/11)
Steve Benen: As of two weeks ago, it seemed as if the chamber had finally turned a corner on dealing with judicial nominees. We finally saw a Republican contingent willing to give jurists an up-or-down vote, even if they intended to vote against the nomination, suggesting some sanity had returned to the chamber. It didn’t last.... how many GOP senators were willing to give this nominee an up-or-down vote? Just one: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski."

GOP effort to block Goodwin Liu is all about petty revenge (Washington Post, 05/19/11)
Adam Serwer: "Rather than argue that Liu is unqualified — which would be difficult to do, given his ratings from the American Bar Association and his endorsements from conservative legal figures — Republican Senators have decided that payback is an adequate reason for filibustering one of the president’s nominees to the bench. It goes without saying that back when these Senators were calling for an “up or down vote” for President George W. Bush’s nominees, they would not have accepted this kind of explanation from Democrats."

Grassley: Nominee Liu has 'Communist' China worldview (Daily Kos, 05/19/11)
Joan McCarter: "an op-ed written six years ago in which Liu made the rather obvious point that conservative interest groups talk about "free enterprise," "private ownership of property," and "limited government" as "code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections." That, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says, means that the Asian-American Liu is basically a Communist, in the Chinese vein, of course."

Liu Nomination Goes Down--What Now? (American Prospect, 05/19/11)
Adam Serwer: "A recess appointment would certainly be controversial given Republicans' animosity towards Liu. But by their own standards, it would be justified--Pickering and Pryor were also filibustered."

GOP blocks Obama administration judicial nominee  (Dallas Morning News, 05/19/11)
Matthew Huisman: "Sens. Cornyn and Hutchison made the argument six years ago that under the Constitution, judicial nominees must get an up-or-down vote. On that basis, they denounced the Democrats' use of filibusters to block judicial nominees -- the same tactic Republicans employed with Liu. Read their comments in an earlier post. [link]"

Tit For Tat  (Fair and Unbalanced blog, 05/19/11)
"Remember when Republicans were adamant about ensuring that judicial nominees received an "up or down" vote? In those days the Democrats had been using the filibuster effectively to thwart some of George W. Bush's more extreme judicial appointments. ... That was then, this is now. Goodwin Liu's nomination to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was successfully filibustered today, with only one Republican voting to end debate on the nomination and allow an up or down vote."

Editorial: 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu deserves a vote; Goodwin Liu's nomination has unfairly languished for more than a year. The U.S. Senate should give him a straight up-or-down vote. (Los Angeles Times, 05/19/11)
"Republicans — and Democrats — inclined to oppose Liu's nomination are free to vote against it. But they would do an injustice to Liu and the Senate by refusing to allow his nomination to come to a vote. The Senate should make such a vote possible — and then approve Liu."

Judicial Vacancies: An Unspoken Crisis (Open Salon , 05/19/11)
Mark Wilson: "And so it looks like another vacancy goes unfilled as Republicans block qualified nominees, hoping to stall just long enough until they get their shot at the presidency, during which time they’ll hopefully be able to get some bright, young Robert Borks into the judiciary."

Republican Senators Filibuster Liu Nomination and Try to Explain Why (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/19/11)
"ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson scored Republicans for their delaying tactics, saying “Those senators who voted against cloture are ushering in an era of unprecedented obstructionism, and threaten to bring our system of justice to a grinding halt.” ACS Board Chair Geoffrey R. Stone also weighed in, saying “Since President Obama took office, some Republican senators have made an art of delaying votes on qualified nominees who have broad bipartisan support, thus threatening the capacity and integrity of our system of justice.”"

Sen. Grassley Accuses Asian-American Judicial Nominee Of Holding ‘Communist’ Chinese Worldview  (Think Progress, 05/19/11)
Ian Millhiser: "Six years ago, Ninth Circuit judicial nominee Goodwin Liu published an op-ed in which he made the utterly banal point that a conservative interest group used the terms “free enterprise,”‘ “private ownership of property,” and “limited government” as “code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.” In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, however, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) somehow managed to interpret this op-ed as proof that Liu wants to turn America into “Communist-run China” ... Grassley’s rant against Liu — a widely-respected law professor at the University of California Berkeley — is just the latest example of the GOP’s increasingly bizarre attacks on this outstandingly qualified nominee. ... As Liu explains, his own commitment to American law stems from his experience as the child of Taiwanese immigrants who “came from a society that did not, at the time, know many of the freedoms that we take for granted in America.” "

WSJ Suggests GOP Should Filibuster Obama Nominee Goodwin Liu But Ignores Bipartisan Support For Him (Media Matters for America, 05/19/11)
"[A]s Media Matters has noted [link], Liu has a large number of conservative and Republican supporters, including former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo and law professor Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer during the Bush administration."