SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. nominated Goodwin Liu, Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley Law School, to the state Supreme Court today.
Liu, 40, previously was nominated by President Obama to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is based in San Francisco, but Liu withdrew his nomination two months ago after a Republican filibuster prevented senators from voting on his confirmation.
“Professor Liu is an extraordinary man and a distinguished legal scholar and teacher,” Brown said. “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.”
Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty in 2003, Liu was an appellate litigator in the Washington, D.C. office of Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers. He previously clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and was special assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.
Liu was born in Georgia to parents who had emigrated from Taiwan, and in 1977 he moved with his family to Sacramento, where he attended public schools. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University and a master’s from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Liu received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Yale Law Journal.
Two years ago he won the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s most prestigious honor for excellence in teaching. Liu currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and is former Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society. He was elected to the American Law Institute and he is also on the boards of the National Women’s Law Center, the Public Welfare Foundation and the Alliance for Excellent Education. He and his wife, Ann O’Leary, have a daughter and a son.
In response to his selection, Liu said: “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.”
Although U.S. Senate Republicans blocked his appointment to the federal bench, his nomination was supported by noted legal conservatives, including former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr; Richard Painter, who was legal counsel to President George W. Bush, and former Rep. Tom Campbell, now dean of Chapman University’s law school. Liu received a strong endorsement from the American Bar Association, and others supporting his nomination included the California Correctional Police Officers Association, the California Labor Federation, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the three most recent Presidents of Stanford University.
Brown has forwarded Liu’s name to the State Bar’s Commission of Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Following the Bar committee’s review, 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, will hold one or more public hearings to review Liu’s nomination. Although the bar committee’s recommendation is not binding, the Governor’s appointment will not become final until the Commission on Judicial Appointments confirms the nomination.
Liu will replace Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, who retired from the court earlier this year.