Republicans Filibuster Goodwin Liu
by Anne Laurie
Because, in the Republican playbook, judicial filibusters are unspeakably anti-American, unless of course it’s a Democratic nominee they’re blocking:President Barack Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee Thursday, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of a liberal professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative Supreme Court nominees — both now justices.
Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they need to end a filibuster and give Goodwin Liu an up-or-down vote on his nomination to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, a 40-year-old legal scholar at the University of California’s Berkeley law school, could someday be a dream Supreme Court nominee for liberals…
To most Democrats and liberal backers, Liu is the type of nominee they want for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. He supports liberal social issues such as gay marriage and affirmative action. He was given a top rating of unanimously well-qualified by the American Bar Association. He was a Rhodes Scholar and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He received numerous awards for academic and legal achievements, including the highest teaching award at his law school.
To most Republicans and conservative allies, he’s a judicial activist who made insulting remarks about the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts, now the chief justice, and Samuel Alito.
Two senators favoring a continued filibuster were Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Both were part of a group of 14 senators who previously pledged not to filibuster judicial nominees except under extraordinary circumstances.
‘Extraordinary circumstances’ such as ‘failing to be Republican’, that is. Adam Serwer at The Plum Line explains why this is more important than McCain’s ever-touchy dignity or Graham’s wounded feelings:Liu’s confirmation battle is a symptom of a much larger problem — the GOP’s success in blocking Obama’s judicial nominations. There are 110 vacancies on the federal bench, a vacuum that leaves the judiciary ideologically skewed to the right.
The lack of Democratic appointees has allowed a more conservative federal bench to interpret the law in ways that drastically affect Americans’ daily lives. Only 133 of Obama’s nominees have been confirmed, far fewer than George W. Bush or even Bill Clinton. The administration itself has also failed to put forth enough nominees, and hasn’t fought very hard for those they have.
Despite their claims, social liberalism isn’t the big reason Republicans oppose his nomination. Liu is recognized by conservatives as uniquely bright, to the point of winning plaudits from conservative attorneys like torture memo author John Yoo and former Solicitor General Kenneth Starr.
The real reason Republicans are trying to block Liu is this: Because of his youth (he’s 39), intelligence and outlook, he’d be a tempting choice the next time a spot opens up on the Supreme Court. A Liu pick would delight Obama’s liberal base and — depending on who he replaced — potentially move a conservative dominated, corporate friendly court to the left for the first time in generations.
But Liu has to make it to the federal bench first.
The Right has been moving the court further to the extreme for 40 years. They don't want to see that regress be reversed by progressive judicial nominees. SCOTUS has been so cozy with the mega-corporations lately that the 1st Amendment has been given nearly exclusively to the rich and powerful only. Other parts of the Constitution have been bent or broken in service to the Corporate overlords again and again. If there is ever a need for a massive protest in Washington, I think SCOTUS is the preferred target of the people's outrage at this point. Yet the court seems to act with impunity and under the radar of the MSM all too often.