Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday his decision to nominate Goodwin Liu, a UC Berkeley law professor and associate dean, to the California Supreme Court. Brown praised Liu as an "extraordinary man" and a "distinguished legal scholar."
Liu, 40, is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, education policy, civil rights, and the Supreme Court, according to his UC Berkeley bio, with a master's degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale. The Georgia native also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and worked as an appellate litigator in Washington before joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2003.
Previously, Liu had been President Barack Obama's choice for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the nomination was blocked by Republicans, who objected to Liu's written positions and said he was too inexperienced for the post. Liu withdrew his candidacy in May. Republicans cited Liu's socially liberal sentiments, indicated by his writings favoring affirmative action, abortion rights and same-sex marriage. In 2005, Liu penned an opinion-editorial about the fate of the country and the Supreme Court under Justice John G. Roberts Jr., calling the likely hard-right swing "a worrisome prospect."
The new appointment would fill the vacancy left by Justice Carlos R. Moreno, 62, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Moreno was appointed in 2001 by Gov. Gray Davis and is the only Latino, as well as the only Democrat, on the court. The state has no African American justices. Liu would be the fourth Asian-American on the current court.
Some Latino bar leaders expressed anger and disappointment at Liu’s selection, according to the LA Times.
“It should have been a Latino and somebody who was native to Southern California,” Victor Acevedo, president of the Mexican-American Bar Assn., told the LA Times.
“We are almost the majority of the people of the state of California, and for the governor to say there isn’t one Latino who is qualified to serve on the court is extremely troubling,” he said. “That to me is like the governor turning a cold shoulder to the Latino community in Southern California.”
A date for the court to take up Liu's nomination has not yet been determined.