It was rumored last night, but now it's official: Goodwin Liu, a leading progressive legal theorist (and my constitutional law professor at Berkeley Law), has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Per release from the White House:
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama nominated Goodwin Liu for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Robert N. Chatigny for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Mr. Liu currently serves as an Associate Dean and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Judge Chatigny currently serves as a U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut.
President Obama said, “Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny have proven themselves to be not only first-rate legal minds but faithful public servants. It is with full confidence in their ability, integrity, and independence that I nominate them to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals.”
Goodwin Liu: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Goodwin Hon Liu is an Associate Dean and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. An acclaimed scholar, teacher, and lawyer, with experience in both the private and public sectors, Liu is a nationally-recognized expert on constitutional law and education law and policy. In 2009, he received Berkeley's most prestigious teaching award.
Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty in 2003, Liu was an associate at O'Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C. He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the October 2000 Term, and for Judge David S. Tatel on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1998-1999. Between his clerkships, Liu served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. He has also worked for the Corporation for National Service, where he helped launch the AmeriCorps program.
Liu was born in Augusta, Georgia, to parents who emigrated from Taiwan, and he grew up in Sacramento where he attended public schools. Liu earned a B.S. from Stanford University in 1991, an M.A from Oxford in 2002 (where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar), and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1998.
This is really great news -- it's hard to overstate this. It suggests that President Obama is starting to get it on judicial nominations -- that if the Republicans are going to mount filibusters against even moderate nominees with bipartisan support (see, for instance, the nomination of David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit last year), there is no reason not to nominate jurists with more ambitious views.
Liu is such a jurist. He is one of the brightest legal minds in the country, and what's more (and perhaps more importantly) he has the ability to articulate his views in a cogent manner. In other words, he would make a great judge. Additionally, at the age of 39, he would (if confirmed) have the ability to have a say in the direction of the law for decades to come.