Right-wing media figures -- including National Review Online blogger and Ethics and Public Policy Center president Ed Whelan -- have been baselessly suggesting that judicial nominee Goodwin Liu was trying to hide something by submitting additional writings and statements as a supplement to his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.
University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, a former assistant White House counsel during the Bush administration, pretty much destroyed those arguments, noting of Liu's additions, "most of these items are the types of things that law professors do routinely and frequently" and are thus "nearly impossible to keep track of" and stating: "Professor Liu also apparently does not have a photographic memory. It appears to me, however, that his original answers to the questions were a careful and good faith effort to supply the Senate with the information it needed to assess his nomination." Painter continued: "He provided a lot more information than many nominees do in response to these questions. He has now provided the additional information the Senate wants. I doubt the Senators will learn anything new from it."
Since Painter's definitive debunking hasn't stopped the attacks, we thought it was worth remembering that Chief Justice John Roberts omitted his affiliation with the Federalist Society from the questionnaire he submitted as a court of appeals nominee in 2001. That questionnaire asked Roberts to "list all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees or conferences of which you are or have been a member." Roberts listed several legal organizations but did not list the Federalist Society -- an influential conservative legal organization to which many of President Bush's judicial nominees belonged -- in response to that question. However, according to The Washington Post, the Federalist Society listed Roberts' name in its 1997-98 "leadership directory." The Post reported that the Federalist Society listed Roberts "as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number."
And who was busy excusing Roberts for not listing the Federalist Society on his questionnaire? Ed Whelan.
Conservatives appear ready to attack anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court as suggested by a New York Times article that quoted conservative activist Richard Viguerie signaling that he will affix the "radical" label to anyone Obama nominates. Furthermore, the specific attacks on potential nominees cited by the Times do not hold up to scrutiny.
A Rasmussen poll asked whether President Obama believes "Supreme Court justices should decide cases based on what's written in the Constitution and legal precedents or does he believe they should decide cases by a sense of fairness and justice," and gave no indication whether respondents were given the choice to say both. In fact, Obama has stated that he is looking for justices that both follow the law and have empathy.
Lou Dobbs did not challenge the accusation by Ed Whelan that Sonia Sotomayor contradicted herself on the question of whether judges should use foreign law in deciding cases.