Senator Leahy, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has announced that he will not postpone hearings on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, even though Liu only just disclosed 117 previously withheld items requested by the Committee. These items include writings that reflect his positions on affirmative action, judicial activism, immigration, and “constitutional welfare rights.” Leahy explained:
At the time of Professor Liu’s twice-rescheduled hearing, Committee members will have had more than seven weeks to review the nominee’s record, and two weeks to review the materials submitted to the Committee on April 5. I see no reason to further delay this nominee’s opportunity to appear before the Committee and respond to the questions its members may have.
Reasonable people can disagree, I suppose, about whether Senate Republicans will have had enough time to review thoroughly Liu’s omissions. As Ed Whelan notes, however, even Liu’s latest supplemental response is not complete. Moreover, according to Ed, the material has been presented in a way that makes it difficult for Senators and their staffs to sort through it.
Liu is by far the most radical of President Obama’s appellate court nominees. In fact, he is probably more radical than Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department.
Johnsen’s nomination has been stalled for about a year now. During much of that time, the Democrats held 60 Senate seats, but they now hold only 59. I have no inside information on the prospects for blocking Liu, but on the face of things they don’t seem too bad.
Under these circumstances, I wonder whether Leahy is making a mistake by rushing ahead. At the end of the day, the Dems will need some Republican votes to confirm Liu in the face of a filibuster. Even if they can stomach Liu’s radical positions on issues like reparations to African-Americans, the likes of Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Scott Brown aren’t likely to be happy about efforts to limit the ability of Republicans fully to explore Liu’s key writings and the reasons why he withheld many of them from the Senate.