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Senate blocks nomination of Liu


The U.S. Senate has voted 52-43-1 (with one Senator voting “present”) on a motion to proceed to the confirmation of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Sixty votes were required to overcome a filibuster, therefore with only 52 votes the Senate was prevented from holding a final up-or-down vote on the nomination.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka voted in support of Liu’s confirmation.

Akaka made the following statement in the Congressional Record earlier Thursday:

Today I rise to speak in support of Goodwin Liu to be a Federal Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
I am confident that Professor Liu, as a nationally-recognized expert on constitutional law, is highly qualified for this prestigious position.

His understanding of the role of a circuit judge — to follow the instructions and precedents set by the Supreme Court — will allow him to remain a neutral mediator. This judicial philosophy will be the basis for his restrained actions, and will be balanced by his experiences as a professor and in the public and private sectors. Professor Liu’s background speaks volumes about his qualifications and his strong work ethic.

Goodwin Liu, the son of immigrant parents from Taiwan, is a graduate of Stanford University. He was elected co-president of the student body and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He was also awarded the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award, the university’s highest honor for outstanding service to undergraduate education.

After Stanford, Goodwin Liu attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree in philosophy and physiology. He continued his education at Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and won the prize for best team argument in the law school moot court competition.

His academic accomplishments earned him clerkships with Judge David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Between these prestigious clerkships, Goodwin Liu served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. In that capacity, he advised the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on a range of legal and policy issues, including the development of guidelines to help turn around low-performing schools.

He also spent two years as a senior program officer for higher education at the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps), leading the agency’s effort to build community service programs at colleges and universities nationwide.

Goodwin Liu also worked in the private sector for a prominent Washington law firm and maintained an active pro bono practice. In 2003, he returned to California to join the faculty of Boalt Hall, one of the nation’s top law schools, where he established himself as an outstanding scholar and teacher.

A few years later, Goodwin’s work on “Education, Equality, and National Citizenship” won him the Educational Law Association’s Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

He quickly earned tenure and was elected to the American Law Institute. In 2009, after being promoted to Associate Dean, he received Berkeley’s most prestigious teaching award, the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award for excellence in teaching.

Goodwin Liu is an exceptionally qualified nominee and a shining example of the American dream. I have long been impressed by his academic and career achievements, and after meeting with him yesterday I am thoroughly convinced that he will be an outstanding judge for the Ninth Circuit, which encompasses Hawaii and includes over 40 percent of our nation’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander population.

Goodwin Liu was given the American Bar Association’s highest rating of “Unanimously Well Qualified” based on his integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. He is highly qualified, intelligent, and he will help the court better reflect the broad population it serves.

He has strong support in the Senate and he deserves an up-or-down vote.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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