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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Civil Rights Groups Urge Senate to Confirm Goodwin Liu to Federal Bench

March 3, 2011 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Civil rights groups are urging the Senate to confirm Goodwin Liu, nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, following his second successful hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

"After two confirmation hearings and several hours of testimony, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have had the opportunity to thoroughly consider the nomination of Professor Liu," said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. "We strongly urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider his nomination quickly and for the Senate to have an up-or-down vote without any additional delay."

Liu's nomination has languished for more than a year as some senators employed an unprecedented level of obstructionist tactics to slow down many of President Obama’s nominees. He is one of 18 nominees to the federal courts who were denied a vote in the Senate last year.

In fact, the Senate’s inaction forced President Obama to renominate Liu twice, most recently on January 5. President Obama originally nominated Liu on February 24, 2010, and the Senate Judiciary Committee first approved his nomination on May 13, 2010.

Liu is an acclaimed scholar, teacher, and nationally recognized expert on constitutional and education law who currently serves as associate dean and professor of law at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. He enjoys bipartisan support and is widely supported by the civil and human rights community.

"A year is too long to wait to confirm a nominee as qualified and respected as he is. The Senate should end the destructive stalemate that has delayed his and dozens of other confirmations and bring this nomination to a vote immediately," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. "Liu's elevation to the bench would not only help mitigate the crisis of our understaffed courts and contribute to the diversity of the federal bench, it would ensure that the American people will be served by one of the finest legal minds of his generation."

The failure of the Senate to overcome the obstructionist tactics of the minority party during the last two years greatly increased the number of judicial vacancies on the federal courts.  There are currently 99 vacancies – 44 of which have been termed "judicial emergencies," (including Liu’s seat) by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts because they do not have enough judges to handle the caseload. A court with vacancies and increased workload means long delays for people seeking to enforce their rights or settle their legal disputes in court.

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