Senate Democrats

Reid: Goodwin Liu Is An Extremely Qualified Public Servant And Impressive Legal Scholar

Leading Republicans Agree Liu Is More Than Qualified For The Job

Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Several years ago we faced a confirmation crisis in the Senate.  The majority at the time, the Republicans, were frustrated with the inefficient way the Senate was performing our Constitutional duty of confirming the President’s nominees.

“Many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle passionately argued that all judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

“In their frustration, they threatened to dramatically change the purpose of the Senate and the minority protections for which it was designed.

“That would have, in a manner of speaking, blown up this institution.  That’s why it was known as the nuclear option.

“In the heat of this battle, several courageous senators agreed to a standard that would preserve the traditions of the United States Senate.  They ensured the Senate could still provide the President its advice and consent, as the Constitution requires.

“The agreement was significant, but simple.  It was this: except in extraordinary circumstances, those nominated to be federal judges would get an up-or-down vote.  The minority would not stand in the way of that vote.  The agreement was grounded in common sense.

“So far, in most cases, both sides have generally upheld that agreement.  The nomination before us, however, is not one of those cases.

“Goodwin Liu is an extremely well-qualified public servant and impressive legal scholar.  He was a Rhodes Scholar and clerked on the Supreme Court.  He served as an associate dean at the California Berkley School of Law, and is still a professor there.

“He has done a lot of pro bono work, and even helped launch AmeriCorps.  On top of all that, he’s lived the American Dream: he is the highly successful son of immigrants.

“I think President Obama was wise to appoint him to the Ninth Circuit.  So do a lot of Democrats – and so do a lot of Republicans.

“Ken Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor, called Liu, who served in the Clinton Administration, ‘a person of great intellect, accomplishment and integrity.’

“Former Congressman Bob Barr, a very conservative former federal prosecutor, also reviewed Liu’s writings.  He came away impressed with, as he said, ‘his commitment to the Constitution and to a fair criminal justice system.’

“And one of President Bush’s former White House lawyers said Liu’s views ‘fall well within the legal mainstream.’

“I could go on and on with more quotes from lawyers and legislators on the right, as well as on the left and in the center.  But you get the picture.

“Everyone agrees that Goodwin Liu’s nomination is far from the ‘extraordinary circumstance’ that would warrant a filibuster.  The only extraordinary things about Liu are his experience, accomplishments and integrity.

“I think he should be confirmed unanimously.  At the very least, he undoubtedly deserves an up-or-down vote.

“But Senate Republicans have already forgotten the lessons of the nuclear option.  Today, they are threatening to block this highly qualified nominee from confirmation.

“Vacancies on the federal bench delay justice for citizens seeking the help of our judicial system.  And it isn’t fair to leave in limbo well-qualified nominees.

“So I am forced now to file cloture in order to ensure Goodwin Liu gets the vote he deserves.  It’s regrettable that it has come to this.

“As I file cloture, I remind my Republican colleagues once again that public servants are not political pawns.  Goodwin Liu has dedicated his life to justice and fairness.  As we consider his nomination, we owe someone of his caliber those same considerations.”