The hypocrisy of Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy knows no bounds. The Vermont Democrat insists on expediting a hearing for the wildly leftist, fundamentally dishonest appellate court nominee Goodwin Liu before committee members have received adequate access to Mr. Liu’s records. Throughout his career, Sen. Leahy has insisted on seeing - and sometimes leaking - records that properly should remain private. Yet in this case, concerning records everybody agrees should be public, the senator acts as if they are irrelevant.
Committee Republicans wrote the chairman on April 6 requesting more time to review Mr. Liu’s records because the nominee had failed to submit an astonishing 117 separate writings or speeches that should have been included in response to a committee questionnaire. Professing abject apology, Mr. Liu filed an amended response, after which the Verum Serum blog identified nine more omissions. Despite having so many materials to review, Mr. Leahy denied his Republican colleagues’ request for more time, instead reaffirming that the hearing would be held Friday.
That would put Mr. Liu’s hearing just 51 days after the date of his nomination. Appellate court nominees by former President George W. Bush waited an average of 135 before their first hearings - largely because Mr. Leahy delayed them.
This is the same senator who helped lead a permanent filibuster that killed the nomination of superbly qualified lawyer Miguel Estrada on the pretext that he needed to see several memorandums from Mr. Estrada’s work for the U.S. solicitor general. Never mind that all seven living former solicitors general, from both parties, said in no uncertain terms that it would be highly improper, legally, to release those memos.
This is the same Mr. Leahy who repeatedly leaked classified data while he was on the Senate Intelligence Committee, from which he was forced to resign. This also is the same man who earlier this year had conniption fits in demanding the recovery of lost e-mails from former George W. Bush administration attorney John Yoo even though the messages’ relevance was questionable. Mr. Leahy, who regularly has insisted that senators should closely examine and even release documents, no matter how secret, now says senators should hold hearings on a nominee without being sure they have studied, much less seen, all the relevant documents. How rich.
This isn’t a mere procedural sideshow. In addition to the radical substance of Mr. Liu’s record, the nominee’s integrity is at issue. Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who has written extensively on the Liu nomination, explains, “There is a disturbing pattern that Liu’s most inexplicable omissions contain some of his most controversial and incendiary comments and that this pattern reasonably invites the suspicion that Liu was indeed trying to hide aspects of his record from the Senate.” In other words, the omissions don’t seem to be oversights, but subterfuge.
It’s no wonder the nominee wants to hide. As a 39-year-old academic with little practical legal experience, Mr. Liu must be adjudged mostly by his writings and remarks. Yet moderate legal analyst Stuart Taylor of the National Journal writes that Mr. Liu is probably “to the ideological left of … 80 percent or more of voters.” As Mr. Taylor describes it, Mr. Liu has advocated for “racial preferences without end,” for “reparations for slavery,” for a supposed constitutional right to welfare and for an active “judicial power to reshape society” according to the judges’ own values.
Mr. Liu apparently tried to conceal the more extreme iterations of these views from senators in position to confirm or reject his nomination. The Judiciary Committee should take ample time to research his disturbing notions about a massively powerful, leftist judiciary and to prepare to ask him about those views in a well-briefed public hearing.