An Obama Judicial Nominee Gets Sick of Waiting

Facing a filibuster, Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu withdraws from consideration

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Goodwin Liu has had enough. On Wednesday, Liu, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Obama nominated Liu to fill a vacancy on the Ninth Circuit Court in February 2010, and Liu's been in debate limbo ever since. Last week, the Senate voted 52-43 to advance Liu's nomination to a vote, but they needed 60 votes to break through the GOP filibuster around him. Republicans have been arrayed against Liu since his nomination--they say he's an inexperienced left-winger who'd legislate from the bench. (He's gotten the endorsement of some conservatives, though, including Kenneth Starr and Clint Bolick.)

Last week's non-vote was the last straw for Liu, it seems. "With no possibility of an up-or-down vote on the horizon," he wrote yesterday in a letter to Obama, "my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future." Liu pointed out that the appeals court has a lot of cases to get through, and it didn't look like he'd be getting to a confirmation vote any time soon. He asked Obama to "withdraw my nomination from further consideration," adding that "the nomination has been a source of tremendous pride for my family and community."

It's a bad blow for Liu, who some people speculated might have been on a trajectory to the Supreme Court if his nomination had gone through. And it's a setback for Obama--Liu was the first of his judicial nominees to be successfully filibustered. Liu wasn't the only nominee with a confirmation vote pending, though: the American Constitution Society lists 53 others, all at various stages of the process.

Of that list, one of the ones who's been waiting the longest is Edward Carroll DuMont, a lawyer whom Obama nominated to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in April 2010. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for DuMont's nomination. Obama re-nominated DuMont at the start of the 2011 Congressional session, along with several other appeals court candidates; Keen News Service notes that DuMont, who is openly gay, is the only one of these nominees who hasn't had a hearing yet. "In fact," wrote chief correspondent Lisa Keen in March, "only one other nominee on the Committee's list of pending federal appeals court nominees has waited longer than DuMont for a confirmation vote: controversial liberal nominee Goodwin Liu."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.