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Goodwin Liu

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Goodwin Liu
Current Court Information:
California Supreme Court
Title:   Justice
Salary:  $
Appointed by:   Gov. Jerry Brown
Active:   2011-1/3/2027
Preceded by:   Carlos Moreno
Past post:   Associate dean and professor of law, UC Berkeley
Past term:   2003-2011
Past post 2:   Attorney, O'Melveny & Myers
Personal History
Born:   1970
Undergraduate:   Stanford University, 1991
Law School:   Yale Law School, 1998
Grad. School:   Oxford University
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
Position:  Retention
State:  California
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  11/4/2014

Goodwin H. Liu is an associate justice of the seven-member California Supreme Court. He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and confirmed on September 1, 2011. He successfully ran for retention in 2014 to a term that expires on January 3, 2027.[1][2]



See also: California judicial elections, 2014
Liu ran for retention to the California Supreme Court. The general election took place on November 4, 2014.[3]


  • The Sacramento Bee[4]


Liu earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1991. He then went on to earn a master's degree from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. Liu earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1998.[2]


After his admission to the bar, Liu clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Justice David Tatel. He next worked as a special assistant to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and as senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps). Liu then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. After this, he entered private practice as an appellate litigator at O'Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C.

In 2003, Liu accepted a position as a professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall. Liu was named associate dean of UC Berkeley School of Law in 2008, where he worked until his appointment to the California Supreme Court in 2011.[5][6]

Awards and associations


  • Steven S. Goldberg Award, Education Law Association, 2007[7]
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, University of California, Berkley, 2009


  • Chair, American Constitution Society, Board of Directors
  • Member, American Law Institute, 2008-Present[6]
  • Faculty commencement speaker, Boalt Hall, 2009[8]
  • Board of trustees, Stanford University
  • Former member, Alliance for Excellent Education, Board of Directors
  • Former member, National Women’s Law Center, Board of Directors
  • Former member, Public Welfare Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Faculty adviser, California College Prep Academy
  • Team member, Obama-Biden Presidential Transition, Education Policy and Agency Review


California Supreme Court nomination

In July 2011, Liu was nominated to the California Supreme Court by Governor Jerry Brown.[9] In advance of his confirmation, the California State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation gave Liu a rating of "exceptionally well qualified" on August 29, 2011.[10][11]

Federal court nomination

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Goodwin Liu
 Court:Ninth Circuit
 Progress:Withdrawn 455 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:February 24, 2010
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Well Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:April 16, 2010
ApprovedARenom. QFRs:Renom. QFRs
ApprovedAReported:April 7, 2011 May 13, 2010,
September 23, 2010
DefeatedDWithdrawn:May 25, 2011

On February 24, 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Professor Liu to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[12] However, after a filibuster in the Senate, Liu withdrew his nomination in a letter to the President on May 25, 2011.[13]

In reaction to his nomination Liu said that he is "very humbled by this nomination and grateful to President Obama for this honor."[14]

Liu received a rating of "Unanimously Well Qualified" from the American Bar Association.[15]

Judiciary Committee hearing

A hearing date before the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled for Liu at 2:30 p.m. on March 24, 2010, however, the hearing was postponed due to Republican objection.[16] The hearing was rescheduled for April 16, 2010 and you can find his Public Questionnaire Available Here, his Questions for the Record available here and Additional Questions for the Record available here. A committee vote was scheduled for May 6, 2010.[17] The Committee voted 12 -7 along party lines to send Liu to the full Senate for confirmation.[18][19][20]

Liu submitted supplementary materials to his initial public questionnaire to the Committee dated March 3, 2010. In his explanatory letter to Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Liu was apologetic for omitting the materials in his initial questionnaire, saying the "original submission of my Senate Questionnaire on February 24 inadvertently omitted a number of items. I would like to offer a sincere and personal apology to you, to the Ranking Member Jeff Sessions and to the entire Committee for the omissions in my original submission."[21]

Nomination returned to President

On August 5, 2010, the Senate returned the nomination of Liu to President Obama, refusing to debate and offer a vote before the body adjourned for its month-long recess.[22]

On September 13, 2010, President Obama again submitted Liu's nomination to the U.S. Senate.[23]

On September 23, 2010, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-7 to send Liu's nomination to the U.S. Senate for a vote.[24]


U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer praised the nomination, calling Liu "a proven authority on constitutional law with a keen intellect."[25] Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Rep. Michael Honda (D - California), also endorsed Liu's nomination, saying that, "Not only has he been a leader in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, he has proven himself in the legal profession as well, with support from renowned legal minds from a diversity of ideological backgrounds."[26]

Despite predicted conservative objections to Liu's nomination[5] attorney Clint Bolick of the conservative Goldwater Institute in Phoenix supported him saying, "I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty."[27]

John Yoo, a former lawyer for the Bush administration, said, "I think he's very well qualified. He's someone who would be chosen by a Democratic president, not a Republican one, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good judge on the bench."[28]

Kenneth Starr, former Whitewater special prosecutor, in a joint letter with Yale Law School Professor Akhil Amar, said, "[I]n our view, the traits that should weigh most heavily in the evaluation of an extraordinarily qualified nominee such as Goodwin are professional integrity and the ability to discharge faithfully an abiding duty to follow the law. Because Goodwin possesses those qualities to the highest degree, we are confident that he will serve on the court of appeals not only fairly and competently, but with great distinction."[29]


Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, has expressed concern that Liu is "a troubling nomination" and said that "I think most senators would say he's beyond the mainstream" in leaning toward the left.[28]

Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, blogged at National Review Online that Liu has a "woeful lack of experience" for consideration as a federal judge.[30][31]

Liu's work on the book "Keeping Faith with the Constitution," which questions the validity of interpreting the Constitution as written and criticizes conservative legal theories, is reported to be point of for concern to conservatives.[32][33]

Filibuster and withdrawl

Liu's nomination was returned to the President at the end of the 111th Congress. President Obama resubmitted the nomination on January 5, 2011.

On May 19, 2011, Senate Republicans blocked a vote by Democrats to end a filibuster on giving Liu a yes or no confirmation vote. The vote was 52 in favor of ending the filibuster to 43 not in favor, landing shy of the 60 votes needed to end the deadlock.[34] Liu withdrew his nomination on May 25, 2011 after Senate Republicans blocked a vote to end the filibuster that had been delaying his confirmation.[13]


Professor Liu's recent works include:

  • "Keeping Faith with the Constitution" (2009) (with Pamela S. Karlan and Christopher H. Schroeder)[35]
  • "Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights," Stanford Law Review (2008)[36]
  • "History Will Be Heard: An Appraisal of the Seattle/Louisville Decision," Harvard Law & Policy Review (2008)[37]
  • "Improving Title I Funding Equity Across States, Districts, and Schools," Iowa Law Review (2008)[38]
  • "Seattle and Louisville," California Law Review (2007)[39]
  • "Education, Equality, and National Citizenship," Yale Law Journal (2006)[40]
  • "Interstate Inequality in Educational Opportunity," New York University Law Review (2006)[41]
  • "Roberts Would Swing the Supreme Court to the Right," Bloomberg (2005)[42]

See also

External links


Wikipedia has an article on


  1. San Francisco Chronicle, "Goodwin Liu confirmed to Calif. Supreme Court," September 1, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 California Courts, "Associate Justice Goodwin Liu Biography," accessed August 18, 2014
  3. California Secretary of State Voter Guide, "Justices of the Supreme Court," accessed August 26, 2014
  4. The Sacramento Bee, "Endorsements: Three California Supreme Court justices deserve a thumbs up from voters," October 8, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 San Francisco Chronicle, "Obama nominates Berkeley prof to appeals court," February 25, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 UC Berkely Law, "Goodwin Liu Faculty Profile," accessed August 18, 2014
  7. Berkeley Law Press Release "UC Berkeley School of Law Assistant Professor Goodwin Liu Wins Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law," October 23, 2007
  8. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), "Commencement Ceremony," May 14, 2010
  9. Office of the California Governor, Press Release: "Governor Brown Nominates Goodwin Liu for California Supreme Court," July 26, 2011
  10. Los Angeles Times, "California Supreme Court appointee got state bar's highest rating," August 29, 2011
  11., "JNE Gives Goodwin Liu Highest Rating," August 29, 2011
  12. White House Press Release, President Obama Nominates Goodwin Liu for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Washington Times, "Liu calls it quits in quest for judgeship," May 25, 2011
  14. Oakland Tribune "Obama nominates Cal professor to federal appeals court," February 24, 2010
  15. Senate Judiciary Committee, "Judicial Nomination Materials," accessed April 23, 2014
  16. Senate Judiciary Committee, "RESCHEDULED: RESCHEDULED--Nominations," accessed April 23, 2014
  17. San Francisco Chronicle "Panel to vote on judicial nominee Goodwin Liu," May 6, 2010
  18. Bloomberg Businessweek "Liu Approved by U.S. Senate Panel for Appeals Court," May 13, 2010
  19. New York Times:The Caucus "Liu Nomination Advances," May 13, 2010
  20. San Francisco Chronicle "UC Berkeley's Goodwin Liu wins panel approval," May 14, 2010
  21. ABC Political Punch Blog "Controversial Appellate Court Nominee Apologizes for Omissions in Senate Questionnaire; GOP Says 'Nomination in Jeopardy'," April 6, 2010
  22. The Los Angeles Times, "Goodwin Liu Nomination Blocked," August 6, 2010 (dead link)
  23. The White House, Press Release: "Presidential Nominations Sent to Senate," September 13, 2010
  24. San Francisco Chronicle, "Senate panel OKs Liu, Chen nominations - again," September 24, 2010
  25. Boxer Press Release "Boxer Praises President's Nomination of Goodwin Liu for U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," February 24, 2010
  26. The Hill's Congress Blog "CAPAC applauds President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," February 25, 2010
  27. The Washington Post "Obama nominates Berkeley professor Goodwin Liu to federal appeals court," February 25, 2010
  28. 28.0 28.1 LA Times "Obama court nominee faces opposition," March 24, 2010
  29. Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee, March 19, 2010
  30. National Review Online "The ABA and Ninth Circuit Nominee Goodwin Liu," February 25, 2010
  31. Right Wing Watch "When The Effort To Defeat Goodwin Liu Gets Rolling, You Can Thank Ed Whelan," March 1, 2010
  32. The Bulletin "Obama Names Two Judicial Nominees," February 28, 2010
  33. Fox News "Obama 9th Circuit Nominee: Constitution Must Adapt to Changes in the World," March 4, 2010
  34. Associated Press, "Goodwin Liu Blocked From Confirmation By Senate Republicans," May 19, 2011
  35. Standford Law School, "Keeping Faith with the Constitution"
  36. Stanford Law Review, "Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights"
  37., "History Will Be Heard: An Appraisal of the Seattle/Louisville Decision"
  38. Iowa Law Review, "Improving Title I Funding Equity Across States, Districts, and Schools"
  39. California Law Review, "Seattle and Louisville," 2007
  40. Yale Law Journal, "Education, Equality, and National Citizenship," 2006
  41. New York University Law Review, "Interstate Inequality in Educational Opportunity," 2006
  42. Bloomberg, "Roberts Would Swing the Supreme Court to the Right," July 22, 2005

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