Obama 9th Circuit Nominee: Constitution Must Adapt to Changes in the World

Obama 9th Circuit Nominee: Constitution Must Adapt to Changes in the World

By Shannon Bream
- FOXNews.com

Even his critics describe him as "brilliant," but newly-nominated law professor Goodwin Liu will not have an easy time getting to the 9th Circuit bench.

Goodwin Liu is President Obama's nominee to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Stanford University).
Even his critics describe him as "brilliant," but President Obama's newly minted judicial nominee -- law professor Goodwin Liu -- will not have an easy time getting to the 9th Circuit bench.

At age 39, Liu has compiled an impressive resume: Rhodes Scholar, Supreme Court clerk, top grades at both Stanford University and Yale Law School and now law professor University of California, Berkeley.

Liu has also aligned himself with progressive legal groups, including the American Constitution Society, where he is chairman of the board of directors. That's prompting opponents to argue that Liu is "too far outside the mainstream" to take a seat on a court just one step below the Supreme Court of the United States.

"He believes the Constitution is something judges can manipulate to have it say what they think culture or evolving standards of decency requires of it in a given day," said the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Ed Whelan, a one-time clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and now president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, echoed those concerns.

"Liu believes that judges have the authority to impose their views ... using clever verbal camouflage to disguise what they're doing."

Liu opponents point to a number of his writings, including a book he co-authored in 2009 called "Keeping Faith with the Constitution," in which the authors opine about their concept of judicial interpretation.

"Applications of constitutional text and principles must be open to adaptation and change ... as the conditions and norms of our society become ever more distant from those of the Founding generation."

That theme -- that the Constitution's text and principles must be adapted to changes in the world -- repeats throughout the book and raises eyebrows among conservatives.

Others who know Liu point to what he's accomplished, starting as the son of Taiwanese immigrants who didn't speak much English.

"He embodies the American dream," said Doug Kendall, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC).

Kendall's group does not make a decision about whether to officially support nominees until their confirmation process has concluded, but he is impressed by what he knows of Liu so far.

Kendall said he believes Liu's critics are wrongly portraying him as extreme.

"If you look at Liu's scholarship, he rejects both the conservative idea that judges should strictly construe the Constitution and the liberal idea that the Constitution is a living, breathing document," he said.

Liu is no stranger to Capitol Hill. He testified against the nomination of Justice Samuel Alito during Alito's 2006 confirmation hearings.

In a 2005 report Liu co-authored prior to his testimony, he wrote that Alito's opinions "show a disturbing tendency to tolerate serious errors" and "reveal troubling perspectives on federalism, race, and due process of law."

His testimony didn't derail Alito but now Liu will face similar probing. Already, questions are being asked about whether the president's is putting the young nominee on the fast track to the high court.

Kendall said only time will tell whether Liu would be the right fit, but it's possible he could be in the running if he is confirmed to and serves well at the 9th Circuit. However, that is a possibility that "concerns" Liu's detractors, including Whelan.

"That's certainly an added factor that folks in the Senate need to take into account," he said.

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7 years 45 weeks ago, 10:48 AM

greg az

greg az's picture

Secretary of Homeland Security
Join Date:
Oct 2009
New York, NY, Ascension Island

Nominate Judges to the federal court levil. We can all be thankful that the judges so far are a good blend, and that the court (supreme) is a tad right of center.. hence the decisions re: Gun ownership in DC, and the one coming up on Chi. No other single issue has as much influance on what our Nation will be in the future, as nominations to the courts.. In this case the 9th is already so liberal, that we don't need any further push to the left.. If indead he has gone on record sugesting that you can legislate from the bench, then he wont be confirmed.. Thats the one "litmus" test that all seem to agree on.. It will be interesting to see how he defends that statement about "being open to change"

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
7 years 45 weeks ago, 10:50 AM


samD's picture

Join Date:
Aug 2008
Green Valley, Free State of Arizona, United States


7 years 45 weeks ago, 12:53 PM


ecaman's picture

Join Date:
Jul 2009
Payson, UT, United States

He would fit right in on the 9th Circuit, which is reason enough to oppose him. As Sam indicated, they're already so far outside the mainstream of America as to be viewed as radical. Another radical on this court is too much of an insult to the Constitution.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. (Mark Twain).
7 years 45 weeks ago, 1:18 PM


Pkato's picture

Join Date:
Aug 2008
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, United States
This can't surprise


Patrolman Kato
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.
They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
7 years 45 weeks ago, 1:28 PM


raffycanlas's picture

Join Date:
Nov 2008
New England Territory

im not surprised about this, all gooks are communists, the world needs to adapt to our constitution, not the other way around.

I'm just another damn yankee with a loaded gun looking for some fun!
7 years 45 weeks ago, 2:57 PM


Schuyler's picture

Join Date:
Nov 2008
Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States

I can't see holding his race against him. All Asians are not communists. That's absurd. Many are excellent capitalists. In terms of his views, I agree that I don't want activist judges changing anything. If we want to change the constitution, we have the amendment process to do that. That 'adapts to changing conditions' much better than some judge's opinions.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
7 years 45 weeks ago, 6:31 PM


rommelvspatton's picture

Brigadier General
Join Date:
Feb 2010

Yea, my gook wife and half gook sons are horrible communist. Im always having to kick them away from the Mao statue. "Back you little slant eyes!! BACK, BACK!!" --SARCASM

I do believe you are correct that the world needs to adapt to us and not the other way around though. Its that or we are going in the complete wrong direction, which is my opinion. The world will never adapt to us so we need to reverse direction and become more self reliant and less needing of the rest of the worlds interjections.

Folks like Obama and his Law and Order looking pychologist, Goodwin Liu , believe just the oppoisite and are taking the prime opprutunities to move us in the direction of wider outside influence. I dont think it will work. The opprutunity will turn on them as they misuse it.

The new white nationalism is coming. Its in Eastren Europe and France and as the economy and the shit hits the fan, It will start in the midwest and Texas. Its a backlash and ironicly its the left gone too left and the pendulum swinging back.

Im no racist, I just call em as I see em.

samD's picture
Posted by: samD
7 years 45 weeks ago

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