WASHINGTON (May 19, 2011) — The nomination of Goodwin Liu, named by President Obama to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was blocked in the U.S. Senate today on a near party-line vote.
Only 52 senators voted to “invoke cloture” (end debate) on the Liu [pronounced “loo”]nomination. That was 8 votes short of the 60 that were required to advance the nomination to an up-or-down vote.
Of the 44 Republican senators who were present to vote, only one — Lisa Murkowski (Ak.) — voted in favor of advancing the Liu nomination. Of the 52 Democrats who were present, only one — Ben Nelson (Ne.) — voted to block Liu. The official roll call is here.
Liu, age 40, is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He has never served as a judge, but he has written and testified extensively on legal issues.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) had urged pro-life senators to oppose cloture on Liu’s nomination.
“Liu is strongly committed to judicial activism and to an expansive judge-made ‘right’ to abortion,” commented NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “Indeed, when John Roberts was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, Liu published an opinion piece in which he specifically attacked Roberts as a threat to ‘abortion rights.'”
NARAL Pro-Choice America conducted an extended lobbying campaign on behalf of Liu, calling him a “champion of the constitutional right to privacy.” In a press release issued after the vote, NARAL claimed to have generated 20,000 messages to senators in support of Liu’s nomination.
Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who has written extensively and critically regarding Liu’s record, wrote on National Review Online on May 17, “Liu presents a volatile mix of aggressive left-wing ideology and raw inexperience. He’s the rare nominee who would threaten to make the Ninth Circuit worse than it already is.”
Following today’s Senate vote, Whelan noted that only one potential Liu supporter missed the vote, “so the Liu nomination appears dead.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is one tier under the U.S. Supreme Court in the federal judicial system. It handles appeals from federal district courts in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and some territories.
Update: On May 25, 2011, Goodwin Liu sent a letter to President Obama asking the president to withdraw his nomination.