The Trump administration has nominated Jessie Liu to be Associate Attorney General. This is the number three position at the Justice Department, behind the Attorney General (William Barr) and the Deputy Attorney General (Jeffrey Rosen).
On paper, Liu seems well-qualified for the job. Currently, she’s the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. She has held important positions at Main Justice and the Treasury Department.
But there is at least one worrying aspect to Liu’s impressive resume. In 2005 and 2006, she served as Vice President of the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL).
There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that on January 9, 2006, NAWL sent a letter to “Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee” saying that Samuel Alito, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was pending, “is not qualified to serve on the Court from the perspective of laws and decisions regarding women’s rights or that have a special impact on women.”
NAWL claimed that as a Circuit Court judge, Alito “has shown a disinclination to protect or advance women’s rights.” Of “primary concern” to NAWL was “Alito’s stance on women’s reproductive rights.” It complained, specifically, about his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 947 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1991), in which Alito contended that married women should be compelled by law to notify their husbands of their abortions.
NAWL also attacked Alito for “disparag[ing] substantive due process.” It described substantive due process, correctly, as “a critical underpinning of women’s reproductive rights.” It’s a crucial underpinning of a range of efforts by judges to invent constitutional rights not conferred by the Constitution.
The letter contained additional attacks on Alito, but you get the drift.
Jessie Liu’s name is the third one that appears on the masthead of NAWL’s letter to the Judiciary Committee members. She is just below NAWL’s president and its president-elect.
She is identified as NAWL’s vice president. There are no other vice presidents listed.
As NAWL’s vice president, Liu must have known about her organization’s position that Alito was not qualified for the Supreme Court and about the letter it sent to Senators stating that position. Did she disagree with the contents of the letter? If so, did she oppose sending it? If so, did she leave NAWL in protest?
I don’t know, but I think Republican Senators need to find out before they vote on her confirmation. I’m having trouble getting my mind around the idea of an Associate Attorney General in a Republican administration who was okay with trying to derail an outstanding conservative jurist like Samuel Alito.