Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


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Obama Resubmits Goodwin Liu’s Stymied Ninth Circuit Nomination to Senate


By a MetNews Staff Writer


President Obama has renominated UC Berkeley School of Law professor and associate dean Goodwin Liu to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House announced the nomination Monday. If confirmed by the Senate, Liu would fill a new judgeship on the Ninth Circuit which was created in January 2009, and would be the sole Asian American sitting as an active judge on the court.

Obama previously nominated Liu Feb. 24, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination on a 12-7 party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 13 after weeks of delay by Senate Republicans. However, it was not acted upon by the full Senate, and under Senate rules nominations not acted upon during the session are returned to the president and cannot be considered unless made again by the president.

Ginsburg Clerk

Liu is a former O’Melveny & Myers appellate litigator in Washington, D.C., who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before joining Berkeley’s faculty in 2003. Last year he was awarded UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest honor for teaching, and in 2007 he received the Education Law Association’s Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

Before joining O’Melveny, Liu served as a special assistant to the deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, and as a senior program officer for higher education at the Corporation for National Service, known as AmeriCorps. He was also a law clerk for D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel.

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Liu grew up in Sacramento. After graduating from Stanford University with honors, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree at Oxford. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1998 and joined the California State Bar the following year.

The Ninth Circuit is authorized 29 judgeships, four of which are currently vacant, and the court reported 12,223 appeals filed in 2009.

There are currently four vacancies on the court, but only one other nominee is pending.

Arizona Nominee

U.S. District Judge Mary H. Murguia of the District of Arizona, nominated to succeed  Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, who took senior status Feb. 12, had her confirmation hearing July 15. Unlike Liu’s, senators held her nomination over by unanimous consent, so it does not have to be resubmitted.

The other vacant seats were held by Judge Stephen Trott, who took senior status in 2004, and Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, who took senior status June 12.

In other news, the president on Monday also renominated federal Magistrate Judge Edward M. Chen to a district judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that has been vacant since April 4, 2008, when then-U.S. District Judge Martin J. Jenkins resigned to accept appointment to the California Court of Appeal.

Chen Background

Obama first nominated Chen on Aug. 6, 2009, and the Senate Judiciary Committee gave him its backing in a 12-7 party-line vote the following October, but the full Senate did not act on the nomination before its session ended in December. The president nominated Chen a second time in January, and the Judiciary Committee again approved the nomination the following month by a 12-7 vote, but it was not acted upon by the full Senate during the session.

Chen was a civil litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California Chapter from 1985 until he became a magistrate judge in 2001, and his activities in his previous position have drawn fire from Republicans during the confirmation process.

 Before joining the ACLU, he spent three years as an associate at San Francisco’s Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. He attended college and law school at UC Berkeley, and served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew of the Northern District of California and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James R. Browning.


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