04.07.10

No Further Delay Of Liu Confirmation Hearing

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday responded to a letter sent yesterday by Republican members of the Committee seeking a third postponement of a hearing to consider the nomination of Professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“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,” wrote Leahy.  “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.”

Leahy first accommodated a request from the Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to delay scheduling the hearing on Liu’s nomination, which was intended to be held on March 10.  The hearing was rescheduled for two weeks later, March 24, but Senate Republicans invoked a seldom-used procedural rule to force the cancellation of the hearing.  The hearing is now scheduled for April 16.

Liu, who is a law professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, recently provided additional materials to the Committee in response to the Committee’s standard questionnaire.  A majority of the submissions were event announcements or descriptions, agendas from third-party organizations, and publicly available news articles.


“While I am disappointed that Professor Liu did not earlier provide the materials in the supplement sent to the Committee on April 5, the materials included there hardly disqualify him from serious consideration by this Committee,” Leahy wrote.  “I believe a fair and thoughtful review of his record, and a public and open exchange during his confirmation hearing, will demonstrate his faithfulness to the rule of law, the Constitution, and established precedents of our judicial system.”

Senior Committee Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will chair the hearing on Liu’s nomination, and on the nomination of Kathleen Mueller to fill a district court vacancy in the Eastern District of California.  The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. on April 16, and will be webcast live online.

The full text of Leahy’s letter follows.  A PDF is available online.

# # # # #

April 7, 2010

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Ranking Republican Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Jeff:

Having returned to Washington late yesterday, I am now in receipt of your letter of April 6 requesting yet another postponement of the Committee’s consideration of Professor Goodwin Liu’s nomination to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

I had intended to schedule a March 10 hearing for Professor Liu’s nomination, but in deference to you and your staff, I accommodated your request to instead hold his hearing on March 24.  Senate Republicans then invoked a seldom-used procedural rule preventing the Committee from hearing from Professor Liu, and from district court nominee Kathleen Mueller, at that time.  Both Ms. Mueller and Professor Liu had traveled across the country to appear before the Committee.  Professor Liu left behind his one-week-old son to attend the hearing.  As a new grandfather, I know you appreciate that sacrifice.  

While I am disappointed that Professor Liu did not earlier provide the materials in the supplement sent to the Committee on April 5, the materials included there hardly disqualify him from serious consideration by this Committee.  I believe a fair and thoughtful review of his record, and a public and open exchange during his confirmation hearing, will demonstrate his faithfulness to the rule of law, the Constitution, and established precedents of our judicial system. 

I had hoped that in this new year, we could put political rancor aside and come together to openly and fairly debate President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees.  I am disappointed that, instead, we have seen the same delays and obstructionist approach toward these nominees on the Senate floor extend to the Committee’s consideration. 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.

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY
Chairman

# # # # #

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693