Conservative Media Calls For Filibustering Liu Despite Prominent Bipartisan Support

As Media Matters has previously reported, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has filed a cloture petition on President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth Circuit. Despite bipartisan support for Liu by prominent conservative politicians, the right-wing media have continuously attacked the nominee, and in some cases called for a filibuster of the nomination.

Right-Wing Media Attack Liu In Wake Of Cloture Filing For His Court Of Appeals Nomination

The Wall Street Journal Criticizes Liu, Calls For Filibuster. In a May 19 editorial, The Wall Street Journal suggested that Senate Republicans should filibuster the confirmation of Obama judicial nominee Goodwin Liu, writing: “We dislike judicial filibusters, but Democrats can hardly protest because Republicans are imitating the practice they pioneered when George W. Bush was President. ... Turnabout is unfair play, but nobody would be more deserving than Goodwin Liu.” The Journal further stated, “Good luck trying to explain a vote for Mr. Liu to social conservatives, or for that matter to anyone outside the liberal legal academy, where the law is what professors say it is.” [The Wall Street Journal, 5/19/11]

National Review Online: “It's Time For Republican Senators To Defeat Cloture On The Liu Nomination.” In a May 17 post to National Review Online, Ed Whelan wrote:

For the reasons that I have explained, I believe that the Liu nomination is one that Senate Republicans--together, one hopes, with a few sensible Democrats--must work to defeat.

I continue to hold the view that I've expressed since the outset of Bench Memos in 2004--that the filibuster of judicial nominees is constitutionally permissible but a bad practice. It's clear, however, that unilateral disarmament by Republicans would do nothing to deter Democrats from filibustering Republican nominees. As with the independent-counsel statute, the only sensible choice for Republican senators who want to get rid of the filibuster in the long run is to employ it against very bad judicial nominees by President Obama.

In sum, it's time for Republican senators to defeat cloture on the Liu nomination. [National Review Online, 5/17/11 emphasis in original]

National Review's Whelan Compiles “Key Points” With Which To “Defeat” Liu. In a May 18 post to National Review Online, Whelan assembled “a quick stab at some key points distilled from the selected repository of my extensive documentation of the case against the controversial nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit.” The list contains six points, one of which is “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.” [National Review Online, 5/18/11]

Verum Serum Calls For Liu To Be Disqualified “From The Judiciary.” In a May 18 post to the conservative blog Verum Serum titled, “Goodwin Liu's Views on Reparations Should Automatically Disqualify Him from the Judiciary,” blogger Morgen Richmond wrote:

There are numerous reasons for conservatives to oppose Liu's nomination, but I don't think anything better captures just how far out of the mainstream Liu's views are than his 2008 comments on reparations for slavery. What are you willing to give up?


It's clear - perfectly, irrefutably clear - that in his view the legacy of slavery requires an even greater cost from society than has already been paid. Most concerning of all, the types of recompense which Liu envisions we may have to offer in the name of social justice...i.e. a seat at college, where we live and send our children to school, and yes, money (ahem, reparations)...will undoubtably be issues at play in cases which would come before him. Most civil court cases, by definition, involve a dispute over rights or property, where the judges' decision will ultimately result in one party “giving something up” in favor of the other party. And some of these very issues (e.g. affirmative action, welfare rights) are still being adjudicated in the courts.

These views should automatically disqualify Goodwin Liu him from the judiciary.


To be blunt, if you are not among the 13.6% of Americans who are black, and you are sitting in court on the opposite side of the table from someone who is, how do you know that Judge Liu is not going to choose this moment to enforce this “moral duty to make things right” upon you? How do we know that he won't enforce this upon all of us with broader legal questions which may come before his court?

The fact of the matter is we don't, and given his apparent attempt to hide some of his most controversial views prior to his initial confirmation hearing, I don't think the Senate should trust him with a lifetime appointment to the bench. [Verum Serum, 5/18/11 emphasis in original]

Malkin Criticizes Liu, Urges Readers “Burn Up Those Senate Phone Lines” To Oppose His Nomination. In a May 17 post to her website, Michelle Malkin criticized Liu, saying: “Liu's chronic amnesia and recklessly injudicious smearing of Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito are bad enough. But his expedient metamorphosis from radical judicial activist to cut-and-run cypheris baldly disqualifying.” Malkin went on to urge readers to call their Senators and oppose the nomination: “Burn up those Senate phone lines...every call counts.” [Michelle, 5/18/11]

Red State: Liu's Is The “Biggest Nomination Fight Of 2011.” In a May 18 post to Red State, Curt Levey wrote:

Liu's left-wing agenda and outrageously activist view of the law makes this showdown a classic test of the bipartisan “extraordinary circumstances” standard for when judicial nominees can be filibustered. The standard originated in the 2005 Gang of 14 agreement.


Liu has expressed left-wing views on virtually every hot-button issue likely to come before him on the bench, including the view that Americans are obligated to pay reparations for slavery, an obligation he would likely read into the Constitution. Liu is too far to the left for even Rahm Emanuel, who advised the President against making this nomination.

Levey went on to urge readers: “Those concerned about this radical nominee should contact the key GOP senators immediately” regarding Liu's nomination. Additionally, the front page of Red State on May 19 advertised a senate phone number and urged readers to again "CALL YOUR SENATOR AT (202) 224-3121 THIS MORNING AND TELL HIM TO VOTE AGAINST CLOTURE FOR GOODWIN LIU." [Red State, 5/18/11 emphasis in original]

But Liu Has Received Various Conservative Republicans' Support

Kenneth Starr Recommended Liu For Judicial Appointment. A letter supporting Liu that former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr co-wrote with Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar stated: “What we wish to highlight, beyond his obvious intellect and legal talents, is his independence and openness to diverse viewpoints as well as his ability to follow the facts and the law to their logical conclusion, whatever its political valence may be.” [, 3/19/10]

John Yoo: “For A Democratic Nominee, He's A Very Good Choice.” According to The Los Angeles Times, John Yoo, a former official in President Bush's Department of Justice, said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/9/10]

Tom Campbell: “A Higher Calling And The Nation's Gain.” Campbell -- former dean of the business school at the University of California-Berkeley and an unsuccessful candidate for the 2010 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in California --stated that Liu “is one of the most capable colleagues I've had in my three decades in academia. I hate the thought of Berkeley losing him, but it's a higher calling and the nation's gain. His ability to analyze, communicate, and inspire will make him a favorite among litigants and a leader among judges.” [The University of California Berkeley School of Law, 2/24/10]

Clint Bollick: “I Strongly Support His Nomination.” Bollick, director of the Goldwater Institute, wrote that he “strongly support[s]” Liu's nomination, adding that, "[h]aving reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." [The Legal Times, 1/20/10]

William T. Coleman: “I Think He Will Make A Tremendous Judge.” Coleman, who was Secretary of Transportation during the Ford administration, stated: “I have known Goodwin Liu for many years as after he finished Yale Law School and then clerked for a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States he worked at O'Melveny & Myers LLP in the Washington office for several years and did a tremendous job.” Coleman later added, “I think he will make a tremendous Judge for the Ninth Circuit.” [Judging the Environment, 4/29/10]

Richard Painter: Liu Is “An Outstanding Nominee.” University of Minnesota Law Professor and Former Associate Counsel to President Bush, Richard Painter wrote: “Based on my own review of his record, I believe it's not a close question that Liu is an outstanding nominee whose views fall well within the legal mainstream. That conclusion is shared by leading conservatives who are familiar with Liu's record.” [The Huffington Post, 3/2/11]

The Right-Wing Media Have Repeatedly Attacked Liu

Right-wing media describe Liu as “radical” and “extremist.” In a March 3 editorial, The Washington Times characterized Liu as a “radical” judicial nominee “whose own words demonstrate unfitness for the position.” Hannity similarly described Liu's statements as “radical.” In his Washington Examiner op-ed, Frank wrote that Liu “stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the courts.” [Media Matters, 4/15/10]

Fox News, right-wing blogs distort Liu's comments to claim he supports reparations. Fox News personalities and right-wing blogs have distorted comments Liu made in a 2008 discussion about the legacy of slavery to suggest he supports “reparations.” In fact, nowhere in the passage cited by NRO did Liu say he supported reparations. [Media Matters, 4/15/10]

Whelan Bashes Conservative Legal Scholars In Desperate Attempt To Paint Judicial Nominee As An Extremist. In a March 2 National Review Online post, Whelan attacked Liu, going so far as to criticize various conservative legal scholars Ken Starr and others in order to do so. [Media Matters, 3/2/11]

Washington Times Attempts To Attack Liu With “Foreign Law” Canard. The Washington Times falsely claimed that Liu is “beholden to foreign law” and would look to foreign law for legal “authority” in reaching decisions. In fact, in the law review article the Times cited, Liu spoke favorably about Supreme Court decisions that looked to foreign law as guidance for its decisions, and as a circuit judge, Liu would be obligated to follow those decisions. [Media Matters, 4/21/10]