Goodwin Liu could be excused for never again allowing his name to be submitted for a judgeship. As a nominee for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the UC Berkeley law professor was the victim of shameful obstructionism by Senate Republicans and his writings were caricatured to make him seem wildly outside the legal mainstream. His nomination was filibustered and held in limbo for more than a year before he finally withdrew his name in May.
Despite that ordeal, Liu has now accepted a nomination by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Supreme Court, one of the most prestigious state supreme courts in the country. The federal judiciary's loss is California's gain. Liu's brilliance fully compensates for his lack of judicial experience. He is an expert on constitutional law and education policy who is described by colleagues and opponents as possessing the even temperament desirable in a judge.
His academic acumen may have been his undoing. In scrambling for a reason to oppose him, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee harped on an academic article in which they claimed Liu said that courts should create new constitutional rights to welfare, healthcare and public education. He effectively refuted such criticism, noting that although judges have the authority to ensure that welfare and other benefits are distributed fairly, the main source of those rights is legislation.