Professor Liu Confirmation Hearing

Uploaded by CaliforniaCourts on 09.09.2011

This session of the Commission on Judicial Appointments was a statewide event, available
on Cal Channel to viewers all over California, broadcast and on the web. And it was an historic
session on several levels. Attorney General Kamala Harris, California Chief Justice Tani
Cantil-Sakauye, and Justice Joan Dempsey-Klein comprise the commission, established in 1934.
Hon. Joan Dempsey-Klein, Senior Appeals Court Justice “If you view the three of us up
here, that’s the historical aspect of this, among other reasons. And this is the first
time in the history of this commission that there are three competent women sitting here
The next hour was full of praise for Governor Brown’s nominee to be an Associate Justice
on the California Supreme Court: 40 year old Goodwin Liu, on the U.C. Berkeley faculty
and a nationally recognized constitutional law expert. He’s a Rhodes scholar who earned
degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Yale. Ten speakers raved about his positive qualities
and accomplishments, and there were many letters of support.
Christopher Edley, Dean, UC Berkeley School of Law “Public Service is a part of Goodwin’s
DNA. And the court will be very lucky to have him, for his many talents.”
Hon. Elwood Lui Former Justice, California Court of Appeal “He’s a delightful person;
warm, friendly and down to earth. Almost too good to be true, but yes, he’s that good.”
Holly Fujie Former President, California State Bar “I read virtually all of the dozens
if not hundreds of articles and speeches Professor Liu has written. I wanted to see if he exhibited
any bias or political viewpoint which might interfere with his ability to act as a fair
and impartial judge. I found none. So instead what I found was the work of a brilliant legal
scholar who rationally and evenhandedly analyzed all issues presented to him, and who had a
deep respect for the rule of law and for the U.S. and California constitutions.”
No one spoke in opposition; but Justice Klein said some people were concerned because he’d
never been a trial court judge. He answered: the role of an appellate judge is different
than that of a trial judge.
Professor Goodwin Liu “Each level of hierarchy simply does a different job; to which the
members of that level bring specialized expertise. One has to, I think, as an appellate judge,
have some humility with respect to the idea that the issue being decided has already been
decided once.”
The Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission declared Professor Liu exceptionally well
qualified – as did Bar Associations.
Paul O. Hirose, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association “We are
convinced Professor Liu will be an immediate asset to the Supreme Court.”
Professor Liu was modest in his response.
Professor Goodwin Liu “Frankly I am overwhelmed, and I’m not here to offer rebuttal. I can
only conclude that this has got to be the most pleasant and enjoyable confirmation process
anywhere in America.”
Liu was referring to the grueling 2 years after President Obama nominated him to the
federal bench. The nomination was blocked, and Liu withdrew his name. Governor Brown
immediately tapped Liu for California’s high court.
The Commission unanimously confirmed his appointment, just 36 days after his nomination.
Professor Goodwin Liu “Madam Chief Justice, it will be honor to serve under your remarkable
leadership, and I look forward to many years together.”
Governor Brown administered the oath of office at the Capitol the next day.
Voters will have a chance to retain Justice Liu in the 2014 election.
I’m Leanne Kozak reporting in San Francisco for California Courts News.