- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goodwin Liu, a polarizing Obama administration judicial candidate, has asked the president to withdraw his nomination from consideration for an appeals court judgeship after his bid was blocked last week in the Senate by a Republican filibuster.

Mr. Liu, in a letter sent Wednesday to President Obama, said that “with no possibility of a up-or-down vote on the horizon, my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future.

“In addition, the Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit has noted the ‘desperate need for judges’ to fill current vacancies, and it is now clear that continuing my nomination will not address that need any time soon.”

Republicans said they opposed Mr. Liu’s nomination because they worried the University of California at Berkeley law professor would be an liberal activist judge who would play fast and loose with the Constitution from the bench. They also cited statements he has made suggesting support of affirmative action and gay marriage as individual rights.

Mr. Liu’s lack of judicial experience — he has never served as a trial lawyer or judge — also has been noted.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged the president to accept Mr. Liu’s request “so we can finally move forward with a consensus nominee who reflects the mainstream of American views, respects the rule of law and the Constitution and has an appropriate judicial temperament.”

The president tapped Mr. Liu more than a year ago to fill a vacancy on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes California and much of the rest of the West. His nomination stalled in the Senate last year amid Republican opposition, and Mr. Obama renominated him for the post in January.

A procedural vote on May 19 to break the GOP-lead filibuster and allow Mr. Liu’s nomination to proceed toward a final straight up-or-down vote fell eight votes shy of the 60 needed.

Mr. Liu’s supporters say he is among the brightest young legal minds in the country and that he has been unfairly demonized by the political right.

They added he has received endorsements from several prominent conservatives off Capitol Hill, including Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel during President Clinton’s Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

The Liu debate extended far beyond Capitol Hill, as liberal, conservative and ethnic-minority groups saw the nomination fight as a crucial test of the president’s ability to leave his mark on the nation’s judiciary.

“Last week’s loss would not have occurred had Republicans considered Professor Liu’s record as a whole rather than cherry-picking certain passages and quotes out of context,” said Tina Matsuoka, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Mr. Liu, 40, was born in Augusta, Ga., of parents who immigrated from Taiwan.

He is the first of 25 judicial nominations sent to the full Senate this year who hasn’t been confirmed.

The professor said his nomination “has been a great source of tremendous pride for my family and community.”

“I am profoundly indebted to you for your confidence in me and to the many people who have worked tirelessly in support of my nomination,” said Mr. Liu told the president in his letter.

The White House as of Wednesday evening had not publicly responded to Mr. Liu’s request.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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