Senate Judiciary Approves Pro-Abortion Goodwin Liu Nomination

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 8, 2011   |   10:12AM   |   Washington, DC

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of a pro-abortion activist President Barack Obama nominated for a federal appeals court in the western United States.

The panel voted on a 10-8 party-line vote for Goodwin Liu, whom President Barack Obama picked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, liberal a University of California law professor, faced opposition from Republicans while getting support from each of the Democrats on the committee. Now, his nomination will head to the Senate floor where Republican lawmakers are expected to filibuster his nomination and force Democrats to find 60 votes to cut off debate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s senior Republican, promised such a move, according to the Washington Times: “While I have pledged — and indeed demonstrated — cooperation in moving forward on consensus nominations, there is no doubt that Mr. Liu does not fall into that category.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a pro-life Alabama Republican, agreed that Liu, who has been a board member of a local chapter of the pro-abortion legal group ACLU, is far too liberal to be approved.

“In Professor Liu’s case, I believe the views expressed in his writings fall far outside the mainstream of the traditional American view of law and judging, going so far as to distort the meaning of plain words beyond reality,” he said.

Meanwhile, Curt Levey, executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, called Liu “the worst of Obama’s nominees at all levels of the federal courts.”

Obama picked Liu for the open federal appeals court seat a year ago, but Republican filibusters kept him from receiving approval in the full Senate — forcing Obama to renominate Liu this January. With Democrats controlling fewer seats now, at 53, they are seven short of the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster assuming no Democrats peel off and side with Republicans, which may not be the case for some moderates or those facing tough election battles in 2012.

Liu is a left-wing abortion supporter who conservative legal guru Ed Whelan observed was so left-wing that former “White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel initially vetoed” his candidacy for the Ninth Circuit “on the ground that Liu’s left-wing record made him too controversial.” But Whelan says new White House counsel Robert Bauer “eager to please the Left, successfully pushed back.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee planned to vote on Liu’s nomination on March 17, but Republicans requested the vote be postponed. Instead, the committee approved Edward Chen, an Obama selection for the District Court for the Northern District of California. Pro-life advocates oppose Chen because of his time spent as an attorney for the pro-abortion ACLU.

In December, Democrats gave up on a vote on Liu as a deal brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with White House officials allowed votes on several less controversial nominees but not Liu.

Family Research Council legislative director Tom McClusky has commented on Liu, saying he is “a firm believer in the rule of international law and has shown nothing but disrespect for the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

And Whelen, writing at National Review, says Liu is a problem because he believes the Constitution to be a “living” document, the same view as those jurists on the Supreme Court who invented an unlimited right to abortion throughout pregnancy in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases. “Goodwin Liu has urged judicial invention (usually in an “interstitial” role) of constitutional rights,” he writes.

Liu “presents a volatile mix of aggressive left-wing ideology and raw inexperience,” Whelan adds.

“Liu is closely aligned with various left-wing groups. For example, he is (or recently was) on the boards of directors of the American Constitution Society, the ACLU of Northern California, and the National Women’s Law Center. He apparently practiced law for about two years,” he notes.

Liu has said he believes in the pro-abortion notion of a changing Constitution that can, for example, allow for unlimited abortion rights.

“What we mean by fidelity is that the Constitution should be interpreted in ways that adapt its principles and its text to the challenges and conditions of our society in every succeeding generation,” Liu has said.

Liu clerked for pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, worked in the Clinton administration, and spoke out against Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

ACTION: Contact members of the Senate at to urge opposition to Liu.