Goodwin Liu’s withdrawal as a nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was maybe a “good win” for GOP partisans.
But it’s a bad loss for Asian Americans, and all Americans who believe in diversity, justice and merit.
There is no doubt that such a gifted legal mind as Liu would have served the country with distinction.
Too bad the nomination was poisoned by those on the right intent on designing the face of the federal judiciary instead of leaving it to what has been routinely a sitting president’s prerogative.
(For more on why Liu would have been a great choice, see my blog posts at www.aaldef.org/blog)
Liu’s letter to President Obama on Wednesday was to the point. As quoted in Politico: “In light of last week’s unsuccessful cloture vote … I respectfully ask that you withdraw my nomination from further consideration by the United States Senate…With no possibility of an up-or-down vote on the horizon, my family and I have decided that it is time for us to regain the ability to make plans for the future.”
“In addition, the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit has noted the ‘desperate need for judges’ to fill current vacancies, and it is now clear that continuing my nomination will not address that need any time soon.”
The Ninth Circuit’s need for judges is great. But Liu underplayed the need for Asian American judges in the most Asian American region in the U.S. The under-representation of the group on the federal bench is practically a crime.
When someone as qualified as Liu doesn’t get past go in the nomination process, it’s a sad message to Asian Americans, and anyone who believes in the values of diversity and merit.
Were it not for the nastiness of modern politics, Liu could have been a contender. He is probably the best Asian American Supreme Court Justice who never was.
Liu never got the chance he deserved.
How he was shot down by the GOP is something Asian Americans will not soon forget.
I had hoped that Liu would fight on for his right to serve. Certainly, the president could have pressed on and continued the fight through October. We won’t know if Liu’s letter pre-empted that. It certainly lifted the pressure on Obama to do anything further.
But we do know that the GOP will come courting in 2012 and beyond.
The memory of Goodwin Liu should still be very fresh.