Brown nominates UC Berkeley professor Goodwin Liu to state Supreme Court

Goodwin Liu/Courtesy

Gov. Jerry Brown nominated UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court Tuesday about two months after Liu withdrew his nomination for a federal appeals court position.

Liu will replace Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, who retired from the court earlier this year.

Liu was previously nominated by President Barack Obama three consecutive times to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but he withdrew his nomination after a Republican filibuster blocked his confirmation.

Liu’s nomination for the federal position — his third from President Barack Obama — was a rocky and contentious process. Republicans questioned Liu’s qualifications for the position, stating that he lacked experience, and reiterated concerns about him promoting a liberal interpretation of the Constitution.

“I’m deeply honored by Governor Brown’s nomination and look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of California on our state’s highest court,” Liu said in a statement.

Liu, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law since 2003, specializes in constitutional law, and has been a commentator for major media outlets, including National Public Radio and The New York Times. He is a Rhodes Scholar and won the campus Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009.

“Governor Brown’s nomination of Goodwin Liu to the state’s highest court is absolutely brilliant,” said Christopher Edley, dean of the campus law school, in a statement. “Anyone who watched Professor Liu testify during the rigorous Senate hearings on Capitol Hill knows that he’s an exemplary scholar with enormous constitutional knowledge and intellectual rigor. Liu is widely admired for his decency, moderation, and admirable judicial temperament.  Our students and faculty will miss his leadership and scholarship dearly, but it’s a higher calling and California’s gain.”

Liu’s nomination will now be reviewed by two separate groups. The Commission on Judicial Appointments will hold one or more public hearings to review his nomination after the State Bar’s Commission of Judicial Nominees Evaluation, which is non-binding. However, Liu’s appointment will not become final until the Commission on Judicial Appointments confirms his nomination.

“Professor Liu is an extraordinary man and a distinguished legal scholar and teacher,” Brown said in a statement. “He is a nationally-recognized expert on constitutional law and has experience in private practice, government service and in the academic community. I know that he will be an outstanding addition to our state supreme court.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.