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CA Supreme Court nominee Goodwin Liu receives strong review from state bar, may hear Prop 8 case

Prop 8 trial

By Adam Bink

I wrote a month ago about Goodwin Liu, the UC-Berkeley law professor whose nomination to the 9th Circuit was torpedoed by U.S. Senate Republicans and was recently nominated instead to the California Supreme Court by Gov. Brown. Liu’s confirmation vote is expected tomorrow. Excerpt:

Liu is likely to face a more welcoming reception to the state court. He is set to replace former Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, a strong backer of LGBT rights, who retired from the court earlier this year.

The State Bar’s Commission of Judicial Nominees Evaluation must first review Liu’s nomination before it goes to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, consisting of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, senior presiding justice of the state Court of Appeal.

The three women will consider the proposed appointment at 3 p.m. Wednesday, August 31 in San Francisco. Atkins said she “fully” expects Liu will be confirmed and “will go on to serve with distinction for many years to come.”

It is unclear if he will be seated in time for when the court hears oral arguments on whether Prop 8 can be defended in federal court by its backers. Due to his involvement in the fight over Prop 8 three years ago, it is likely the law’s supporters would request he recuse himself should his nomination be approved prior to the hearing, expected to take place as early as September.

Yesterday, Liu received a strong review from a state bar panel. SF Chronicle:

Goodwin Liu, the UC Berkeley law professor nominated to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Jerry Brown, drew raves Monday from a State Bar panel, which praised his “brilliant intellect … impartiality, integrity, collegiality, and a work ethic second to none.”

Liu, whose nomination by President Obama to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was derailed by conservative opposition and a Republican-led filibuster, apparently faces no such obstacles to a seat on the state’s high court.

Only supporting witnesses have signed up to testify at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing of the Commission on Judicial Appointments in San Francisco. They include Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, a counterweight to the 42 district attorneys from other counties who opposed his federal nomination but did not contact the state commission.

The bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominations Evaluation gave him its highest rating, “exceptionally well-qualified.” He also received supporting letters signed by more than 130 law professors – ranging from fellow liberals to John Yoo, the former Bush administration attorney now teaching at Berkeley – as well as six members of Congress and numerous legal groups.

Judicial Watch did write in to call Liu “radical and inexperienced,” naturally.

I checked on the Commission’s schedule and a confirmation vote is still scheduled for 3 PM tomorrow. It’s expected, though not certain, that if confirmed he would be seated in time for the September 6th hearing on standing in the Prop 8 case at the California Supreme Court. It is worth mentioning that the issue before the court, though, is standing, not the constitutionality of Prop 8, on which Liu has previously spoken out.


  • 1. Ann S.  |  August 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Go, Goodwin Liu!

  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  August 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I'll be the first to reiterate that the proceedings on Monday have not much to do with the Constitutionality of Prop 8, but instead about standing for proponents of any proposition at a federal level when the state chooses not to defend it. The impact is greater on the proposition system.

  • 3. nightshayde  |  August 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Just to clarify — the standing issue is to be taken up on Tuesday (Monday is Labor Day). Didn't want anyone to get excited about tuning in here Monday when nothing will be happening…

  • 4. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for posting. I had lost track of the timing on this. Hoping of course that he is confirmed, is seated in time and has done his homework so that he can participate.

  • 5. Ronnie  |  August 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Subscribing & sharing……

    Video: In Mexico, first national march against anti-gay hate crime

    "Mexicans gay and straight marched 13 August from the office of the Attorney General (PGR), Marisela Morales, to Mexico City's main square (the Zocolo) to demand justice for Christian Sánchez and over 700 people killed in the country in 2011 so far for their sexual orientation."

    (me) Can someone please tell me how many anti-LGBT heterosexuals have been murdered for being anti-LGBT heterosexuals?…. Or how about just heterosexuals? How many human beings have been murdered just for being heterosexual?……Statistics please? Oh, that's right, THERE ARE NONE!!!…. Anti-LGBT Equality people (primarily a version of "Christian") try to paint themselves as "victims" & that they are the ones somehow being "persecuted" (which is bunk because they can still practice their religious liberty in their houses of worship, private schools, & homes)……. Over 700 innocent people have been murdered in one year, ONE YEAR!!! in Mexico, a country that is supposed to be very "Catholic" …. SHAME!!!…….
    > I …Ronnie

  • 6. dwpiper  |  August 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Somewhat Off Topic –

    It occured to me that I have been looking at the issue of the 9th Circuit certifying a question to the CA Supreme Court incorrectly. I had been thinking of it as a pointless and useless delay, since it didn't seem to me to have any direct bearing on whether the proponents had the necessary Federal Article III standing.

    Then I realized today that the very fact that the 9th certified the question they did to the CA Supreme Court *does* have a direct bearing on whether the proponents have Article III standing – and very likely indicates that unless the CA Supremes answer affirmatively, the 9th Circuit panel *will rule that the proponents do not have standing to appeal*.

    I came to that conclusion when I realized that if the 9th already thought the proponents had Article III standing, they wouldn't have needed to consult the CA Supreme Court at all. It seems to me their only reason for doing so is to find out whether there is some way that CA law authorizes the proponents of an initiative to act as agents of the state and appeal if the elected officials decline to do so – which would give them the state's standing to appeal, with no need to show proponents themselves have, or would, suffer some concrete and particularized injury.

    When I came to that conclusion, it seemed obvious to me that if CA law does *not* authorize the proponents to do so, the 9th is going to rule the proponents do not have Article III standing, and therefore that the 9th cannot address the merits.

    If I'm right, then of course proponents' next step will be to appeal the standing issue either to the 9th en banc, or bypass the 9th and appeal directly to the USSC. My hope, since I'm in California with my partner of going on 25 years, is that both the 9th and the USSC will decline to accept the appeal while breathing a huge sigh of relief that they don't have to address the merits, and marriage equality will return to California at last. My apologies to those outside of California who consider that selfish on my part, but we had marriage equality here in California for approx. 5 1/2 months in 2008 (but my partner and I were unable to take advantage of it due to mundane circumstances at the time) and I have been deeply anguished and deeply angry ever since Prop 8 passed.

  • 7. Donald  |  August 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Since the Supreme Court is in recess, any petition goes to Justice Kennedy for him to decide or to refer it to the full Court.

  • 8. dwpiper  |  August 30, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I'd be absolutely flabbergasted if a decision was rendered before October. 🙂

    However, I understood that a Circuit Justice merely decides on requests for stays, not whether or not to grant cert….?

  • 9. Donald  |  August 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    The brief submitted by San Francisco pretty much spells out the easiest way for the SCt to deal with the standing issue:

  • 10. dwpiper  |  August 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I'd be surprised (and unhappy) if the CA Supremes answered in the affirmative. However, I'm not willing to count my eggs before they're hatched on this one….

  • 11. Bob  |  August 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I'd be very surprised. I don't think the court is likely to rule in favor of the intervenors because one of the bases of the city's brief rests on separation of powers. I don't think the court is likely to rule in a way that contravenes the notion of separation of powers without some very fundemental and compelling reason.

  • 12. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Off-duty D.C. cop arrested for shooting trans women

  • 13. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Loving the headline. The article is good too.

    NJ Schools Ban Books: Because Kids Can’t Find Lesbian Sex on the Internet

  • 14. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Congressional candidate’s partner faces deportation because of DOMA

  • 15. Kathleen  |  August 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    If Goodwin Liu is confirmed on Wednesday, as is expected, it's almost certain he'll hear the case on Tuesday. For every case on the Cal Supreme Court's oral argument calendar, there is an assignment of a justice pro tempore (a temporary substitute justice) with the following note:

    "Each order assigning a justice of the Court of Appeal to serve as a justice pro tempore at the September 2011 oral argument calendar specifies that the pro tempore assignment is provisional, and will be vacated if, prior to the date set for oral argument, the Commission on Judicial Appointments has confirmed the proposed appointment of a new Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. "

  • 16. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    The North Carolina marriage amendment.

    GOP talks up marriage amendment

  • 17. Sagesse  |  August 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    A Teacher Is Back in Class After Anti-Gay Diatribe, but Did He Really Win?

    Read more:,8599,20

  • 18. Gay Marriage Supporter Go&hellip  |  August 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    […] Chatter: Why to be careful when blocking judicial nominations […]

  • 19. Sagesse  |  August 31, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Roundup of coverage of the hearing.

    Judge ponders whether videotape of Prop 8 trial constitutes evidence

    Releasing Calif. Gay Marriage Trial Video Would Be 'Act of Hostility,' Says Group

    9th Circuit Judge Weighs Unsealing Prop 8 Trial Video

    Judge to Decide Whether to Release Tapes of Prop 8 Trial

    "The California Supreme Court is preparing its own hearing on whether Thompson's clients have standing to appeal Judge Walker's ruling.

    Stay tuned to KRON 4 and for comprehensive coverage of the legal fight surrounding same-sex marriage in California."

  • 20. Elizabeth_Oakes  |  August 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    " act of hostility…" That's a good one. Accusing Walker of being biased because he's gay, that's not hostility. Demanding a stay on same- sex marriages though denying them has been ruled unconstitutional, that's not hostile at all. All the animus through this whole proceeding, intervening in the first place…that's not hostility? Projecting their own hostility onto others, methinks.

  • 21. Sagesse  |  August 31, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot

  • 22. Sagesse  |  August 31, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Gay military magazine to be distributed at Army, Air Force bases

  • 23. Gregory in SLC  |  August 31, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Hip Hip Hooray!
    Sagesse, I've experience a rainbow of human emotions reading the many articles you've listed on this post…I'm glad I'm in a private office at work…otherwise someone may find me a bit unstable as I whoop!, sad tears, angry shout, Cheer, Big smile, more sad tears, some happy tears ….((HUGS)) from Salt Lake City!

  • 24. Sagesse  |  August 31, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Big ((HUGS)) back :).

  • 25. Ronnie  |  August 31, 2011 at 6:11 am

    White House Honors GLSEN With Champion Of Change Award

    Congratulations to GLSEN……. <3…Ronnie

  • 26. Gregory in SLC  |  August 31, 2011 at 6:30 am

    AWESOME! Another indicator we do NOT need any Republican/NOM allies in the white house! Cheers to Mexico protest too! tx for posting Ronnie : )

  • 27. loaferguy  |  August 31, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Releasing Calif. Gay Marriage Trial Video Would Be 'Act of Hostility,' Says Group:

  • 28. dwpiper  |  August 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Yeah, because nobody can read the official court transcript, so nobody knows who those witnesses are.

    Just another instance of h8ters crying, "Help! Help! They're victimizing me by not letting me victimize them!" in my not so humble opinion.

  • 29. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I think I shall start referring to these pseudo-Christians as "ChINOs." You know, like the way the Right Wing refers to RINOs (Republican In Name Only). That is, Republicans who don't share their hateful & discriminatory agenda.

    ChINOs pretend to believe in & follow the teachings of Christ, yet their speech & behavior are more like wha they would call the Anti-Christ. The only thing I don't like about my acronym is that it sort of slanders the pants. But I couldn't figure out a good pronunciation for "CINOs." Guess it could be "see-noes," as in "see no facts, see no real LGBT families & their children, see nothing they don't want to see."

  • 30. Gregory in SLC  |  August 31, 2011 at 7:24 am

    OT – I have mixed emotions about this, AMAZING this is being openly discussed over the pulpit, but difficult for me to comprehend pledging allegiance to a church that embraced Mayne only AFTER he broke up with boyfriend/partner. As a former 40-year member of the Mormon church, I feel more content, complete and spiritual living outside of the church with my husband.

    Gay Mormon named to key local LDS leadership post in San Francisco

  • 31. Gregory in SLC  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

    700+ comments in past couple of hours….HOT TOPIC in Utah!

  • 32. fiona64  |  August 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    There a dorky guy on who insists that he knows "plenty of gay men who have held bishoprics." He was called out as dishonest, because Mayne is OPENLY gay (although not in a relationship). Said Dorky Guy is the self-appointed Ex-Gay Poster Child and, honestly? More than once I have wanted to slap him silly. But that's just me, LOL. Anyway, I guess it is a pretty big deal for Mayne to be appointed at this level.

  • 33. Gregory in SLC  |  August 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hi fiona : ) having been out of the church for going on five years I sometimes forget some of the quirkiness of the rules, Utah Mormon peculiarities. Dorky guy sounds like someone I would want to smack too! (but, I would probably want to smack myself as well —the person I was when I was living an "ex-gay lifestyle" ; )

  • 34. Ronnie  |  August 31, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Gay Illinois Lawmaker Deborah Mell Marries Partner in Iowa

    “Our relationship deserves marriage,” said a beaming Mell, her newly wedding-banded hand resting on Baker’s shoulder Tuesday. “That’s how I feel about it. I mean there was a time in our relationship where it just wasn’t right to call Christin my ‘partner’ or my ‘friend’ . . . or even my ‘civil-unionized partner.’ You know she’s my wife. . . . We deserve those titles, those rights.”

    (me) Congratulations to the happy couple……………. <3…Ronnie

  • 35. Sagesse  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Do read. It will brighten your day.

    Do Ask, I'll Tell: Gay Parents and Back to School Time

  • 36. Jim  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Does anyone know whether the CA Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday regarding Standing is being broadcast on the CA Court TV station, and if so the time?

  • 37. Donald  |  August 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Yes, it is, Jim. In the LA area, the Charter cable channel is 174. The hearing is scheduled for 10am.

  • 38. Jim  |  August 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks Donald, we're in San Diego and on Time Warner cable and the CA Court station is 125, so I'll assume, since it's probably broadcast live it would be at 10 also.

  • 39. MLP  |  August 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    no surprised, but just confirmed:

    welcome Justice Liu! Now to see if Governor Brown swears him in before Tuesday…

  • 40. Kathleen  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Brown will swear him in tomorrow:

  • 41. JonT  |  August 31, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Awesome news Kathleen! 🙂

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