The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on whether to debate the judicial appointment of UC Berkeley professor Goodwin Liu. His nomination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has languished for more than a year thanks to Republican opposition and Democrats' fear of a filibuster. Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is pressing the nomination forward, Liu's Republican critics should offer him what they always demanded for George W. Bush's nominees: a straight up-or-down vote.
Liu, who has been rated "well qualified" by the American Bar Assn., is widely regarded as a brilliant lawyer with a temperament that would well suit him to the bench. He is undeniably on the liberal end of the legal spectrum but is admired for his fair-mindedness by many conservatives. Nevertheless, he was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single Republican vote. Republicans complained that he was "outside the mainstream," which seems to be a synonym for liberal.
Republicans — and Democrats — inclined to oppose Liu's nomination are free to vote against it. But they would do an injustice to Liu and the Senate by refusing to allow his nomination to come to a vote. The Senate should make such a vote possible — and then approve Liu.