In a March 22 article, Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes sets the stage for this week's hearing on President Obama's nomination of University of California Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. There is no reason to doubt Barnes' thesis that Liu's hearing may be important because, if confirmed, Liu "would be a rarity on the appeals courts, where not one of the 175 active judges is Asian-American." Nor is there a reason to dispute the possibility that, as law professor Michael Gerhardt stated in Barnes' article, the upcoming hearing "might serve "as an initial referendum on Goodwin Liu as a Supreme Court nominee." After all, each of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court previously sat on the courts of appeals before being promoted to the high court. However, it is important to respond to the suggestion that Liu has garnered support only from the left.
Barnes writes that Liu's nomination "has energized the left and outraged the right." Barnes quotes statements of concern or outright opposition from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and conservative activists Kent Scheidegger and Edward Whelan III. In fact, Liu has received support from several conservatives.
The Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, John Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
As the media begin to pay more attention to Liu's nomination, it is important for them not to buy into Whelan's and others' rhetoric. Liu has support from across the political spectrum no matter how loudly Whelan et al. complain that he is an extremist.