Law professor Goodwin Liu was unanimously confirmed by a state commission in San Francisco today to serve on the California Supreme Court.
Liu, 40, a constitutional law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, will be sworn in to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento at noon on Thursday.
Brown nominated him to the court on July 26.
Liu was approved by the California Commission on Judicial Appointments, made up of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Court of Appeal Justice Joan Dempsey Klein.
Liu told the commission, “I am honored but also deeply humbled to serve on the California Supreme Court.”
The son of Taiwanese immigrant doctors, Liu grew up in Sacramento, attended Stanford University, Oxford University and Yale Law School, and worked for the U.S. Department of Education and in private practice before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2003.
Liu was previously nominated twice by President Obama, in 2010 and 2011, to a federal judgeship on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
But that nomination was blocked by U.S. Senate Republicans who considered him too liberal, and Liu eventually withdrew his name during a Republican filibuster in May.
Brown said last month that he learned of Liu’s qualifications during the Senate battle and concluded that he had “the background, the intellect and the vision” to serve on the California high court.
All of the 10 witnesses who testified at today’s hearing at the State Building spoke in favor of Liu’s nomination.
Alice Salvo, chair of the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, said that group gave Liu its highest rating, “exceptionally well qualified.”
UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley called Liu “a brilliant scholar” and said, “Public service is part of Goodwin’s DNA and the court will be very lucky to have him for his many talents.”
Liu joins the seven-member court in time to participate in a hearing the panel will hold in San Francisco on Sept. 6 on a key procedural issue on Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
That issue is whether the voter initiative’s sponsors have the legal right to appeal a federal court ruling that struck down the ban.
In cases of California Supreme Court nominations, the judicial appointments commission is made up of the state’s chief justice, attorney general and senior presiding justice of California’s six regional appeals courts.
Today’s hearing was the first time all commission members were women.
Klein, a justice of the Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, said at the start of the hearing, “This is the first time in the history of this commission (that the panel is) three competent women.”
Julia Cheever, Bay City News