UC Berkeley law professor confirmed to California Supreme Court

Goodwin Liu
Goodwin Liu/Courtesy

The Commission on Judicial Appointments voted unanimously to confirm UC Berkeley professor of law Goodwin Liu’s appointment to the Supreme Court of California.

Colleagues from the UC Berkeley School of Law, as well as members of the business and legal community, spoke about his dedication to the legal profession, his loyalty to his students, his attention to details and his belief in justice for everyone.

“Public service is part of Goodwin’s DNA,” said Christopher Edley, dean of the UC Berkeley law school, as he talked about Liu’s partnership with the law school and the role he has played in students’ success.

He told the commission that as a result of Liu’s outstanding work, he was promoted to the position of associate dean of the law school in 2008 after having been employed at the university for only five years.

Benita Brahmbhatt, a student in Liu’s constitutional law class, said it was an honor and a privilege to speak on behalf of a professor who had such a profound impact on her as a student and as a lawyer.

“He approached each class with an open mind,” she said. “He is deeply committed to the students.”

No one at the hearing testified against the appointment, despite controversy surrounding Liu’s earlier nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama in February 2010. Republicans in Congress who objected to his liberal interpretation of the Constitution filibustered the appointment until Liu withdrew as a candidate.

However, after Brown nominated him, he received letters of bipartisan support from more than 130 law professors, including John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general under the Bush administration and a law professor at UC Berkeley.

The California Supreme Court released the rating Liu received from the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation: “exceptionally well-qualified and possessed brilliant intellect” — the highest possible rating.

Liu addressed the commission and expressed his gratitude for the endorsements he received from his colleagues.

Even though his lack of experience as a trial attorney afforded him criticism from opponents during this and past nomination processes, he said he is prepared to handle the challenges of the appointment.

“Law depends on stability, clarity and finality and should be differentiated by the task,” Liu said. “It has been a long journey that has ended with the most pleasant confirmation known to man.”

Brown will swear Liu in to the California Supreme Court tomorrow in the State Capitol at 12 p.m. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, as well as state leadership from the judicial, legislative and executive branches, will also attend the ceremony.