Commentators and journalists have been focusing recently on the pace of confirmations to federal judicial positions -- and for good reason. Procedural roadblocks have become routine even for nominees with bipartisan support -- resulting in a dramatic slowdown in judicial confirmations. Even Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, noting the delays in the judicial confirmation process in a speech last August, asked whether the process is "working the way it should be."
The Senate can make some important progress on judges before Senators leave town. The first step is to confirm Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Professor Liu is exceptionally qualified, possesses a brilliant legal mind, and has demonstrated his commitment to public service. He was unanimously rated "well-qualified" by the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary and has bipartisan support. As Professor of Law and Associate Dean at U.C. Berkeley School of Law, he has focused on constitutional law and education law and policy; he is one of the nation's leading experts on educational equity. Early in his career, Professor Liu helped launch the AmeriCorps National Service Program and then led efforts to build community service programs at colleges and universities nationwide at the Corporation for National Service. He has served as a Board member of numerous public service and public interest organizations, including the National Women's Law Center.
If confirmed, Professor Liu would increase the diversity of the federal bench by becoming the only active Asian-American judge on the Ninth Circuit, where more Asian-Americans reside than in any other circuit.
But despite his outstanding qualifications and bipartisan support and the fact that the seat to which he has been nominated has been designated a "Judicial Emergency" by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Professor Liu's nomination has been pending for months. This nomination has faced more than its fair share of partisan obstruction: delays in scheduling a Judiciary Committee hearing, refusal to schedule a floor vote without a time-consuming cloture petition, and insistence on renominating him after the August recess. The intended effect of these tactics has been delay, delay, delay.
The time for the Senate to act on the nomination of Professor Liu is now. Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on his nomination once again so that he can receive a vote before the full Senate. Send a message to your Senators today and urge them to support swift approval of Goodwin Liu's nomination. Don't wait; our nation needs Goodwin Liu on the bench now.