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Bracing for the Goodwin Liu Confirmation Fight

The Senate will vote today on whether to confirm President’s controversial pick for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Professor Goodwin Liu. But according to Fox News, it looks as if the Republicans may have the votes to sustain a filibuster:

In a most ominous sign, former GOP members of the so-called “Gang of 14,” who narrowly averted a judicial crisis back in 2005 that nearly shut down the Senate, are lining up against Liu, as well. The somewhat undefined threshold developed by the bipartisan group back then stated that a nominee should be filibustered only under “extraordinary circumstances.”

Sen. John McCain, a leader in the Gang of 14, has already announced that he will support a filibuster. Fox News also reports that the Obama administration has failed to reach out to the more centrist GOP senators needed to pass the confirmation. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both said that the administration hasn’t contacted them. And in another bad sign for the Democrats, Sen. John Thune, who typically opposes filibusters, hinted that he might back this one. “Doesn’t this fit the ‘extreme circumstances’ definition?” he told Fox.

The Senate Republican leadership also came out swinging on this issue. The communications office sent out a statement last night reiterating some of Liu’s most controversial statements and positions. He has been an outspoken supporter of left-wing judicial activism, saying after Obama’s election that “we have the opportunity to actually get our ideas and the progressive vision of the Constitution and of law and policy into practice.”

Liu has dismissed “free enterprise” “private ownership of property” and “limited government” as “code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.” And he has complained that the U.S. judicial system has shown a “resistance” to using foreign authority to shape American constitutional law.

The problem is that Liu, only 40, is young and considered a rising star in the progressive activist world. He’s up for a lifetime appointment, which many see as a grooming period for an eventual Supreme Court nomination.

Which is why it’s important for conservatives to clip him before he can make that ascent. It’s by no means clear what will happen when the Senate votes this afternoon, and there are still numerous senators who haven’t announced a decision on the issue. But at the moment, it looks like the GOP is in good shape to block the nomination.



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