Appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu claims that his failure to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with more than 100 of his speeches and writings was inadvertent. In support of this claim, Liu’s supporters claim the omissions were inconsequential. Former Bush White House ethics adviser Richard Painter has tried to minimze them as “a brown bag lunch here, a talk with alumni there, etc.”
As Ed Whelan has shown, the facts do not support this defense. One of Liu’s omissions was a “showcase panel” at the American Constitution Society’s 2004 annual convention. This was a big deal. The American Constitution Society is the left’s much ballyhooed attempt at an answer to its legal bete noire, the Federalist Society. And, as the name indicates, “showcase panels” are major events at the annual convention, just as they are at the Federalist Society’s.
Moreover, the transcript of that showcase panel establishes that Liu’s remarks were noteworthy, indeed. He explicitly called for three important Supreme Court precedents to “be swept into the dustbin of history.” Three cases are:
Milliken v. Bradley, which limited the legal availability of interdistrict school desegregation remedies to situations where plaintiffs could prove that ‘there has been a constitutional violation within one district that produces a significant segregrative effect in another district.”
San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, which held that education is not a fundamental right, the provision of which is subject to strict judicial scrutiny under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña, which holds, per Justice O’Connor, that racial classifications imposed by the federal government (including those that disadvantage whites) must be subject to strict scrutiny.
At the American Constitution Society event, Liu also explicity rejected the “precept that judges are just supposed to figure out what the law is and not what it should be.” And Ed Whelan says that, as far as he knows, Liu’s remarks at this event are not merely redundant of other material, or at least not material Liu has yet supplied to the Senate.
Given the importance of the event, and the potential prejudice that will result from the disclosure of Liu’s remarks, it seems obvious that Liu’s failure to disclose his participation was an attempt to hide the ball, not the result of inadvertence.
The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have also highlighted five other omissions that don’t remotely fit the description of brown bag lunches or talks with alumni: (1) a UC Berkeley commencement speech; (2) an American Constitution Society event on “What the 2008 Election Will Mean for the Supreme Court”; (3) a presentation to the Asian Pacific Bar Association of the Silicon Valley on “The Fate of Affirmative Action from the O’Connor Court to the Roberts Court”; (4) a Berkeley La Raza colloquium; and (5) a panel at an education conference in D.C.
Some of Liu’s omissions were, in fact, trivial. But the non-trivial ones are powerful evidence of an intentional effort to conceal the full extent of his radicalism from the Senate in order to boost his chances of being confirmed.