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Gov. Brown nominates Goodwin Liu to California Supreme Court

Prop 8 trial

By Adam Bink

About a month ago, I wrote about the retirement of California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, and the longstanding vacancy to fill that position, and how it might affect the Prop 8 case.

Late yesterday, Gov. Brown finally nominated someone to fill the position — and it’s, in the opinion of many, one of the best candidates possible.

Gov. Jerry Brown nominated UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court Tuesday, giving the state high court a fourth Asian justice and a collegial liberal who is likely to be strongly supportive of civil rights.

Liu was President Obama’s pick for a seat on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but he failed to garner enough Republican support. Liu, 40, has never been a judge, but his colleagues at Berkeley, including conservatives, strongly endorsed him for the position.

Liu, a graduate of Yale Law School, is the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He was born in Georgia, grew up in Sacramento and has a history of public service.

Liu was a controversial pick for Obama, who nominated him twice. Senate Republicans criticized Liu’s selection, saying that he was too left-leaning. Liu marked the first judicial pick to be blocked outright on the Senate floor since George W. Bush’s first term.

[Updated at 9 a.m.: Liu is considered an expert on constitutional law, education policy, civil rights and the Supreme Court.

Before joining the Berkeley Law faculty in 2003, Liu was an appellate litigator at O'Melveny & Myers in Washington. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He also served as special assistant to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and as senior program officer for higher education at the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps).]

The appointment would fill the void left by the unexpected retirement of Justice Carlos R. Moreno, who gave Brown an early opportunity to put his stamp on the state’s highest court.

Moreno, 62, was the only Latino and Democrat on the court. When he announced his retirement he said Brown’s election cemented his decision to leave for work as either a private judge or for a private law firm.

Moreno was appointed to the top court by former Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.

Brown’s selection of Moreno’s successor had been closely watched. In 1977, he infuriated conservatives by naming Rose Bird, a friend and member of his Cabinet, as chief justice. Bird had never been a judge, and she voted to overturn every death sentence she reviewed. In 1986, voters rejected her in a retention election, defeating two other Brown appointees on the state high court at the same time.

Liu was one of 17 law professors who urged the California Supreme Court to end the ban on same-sex marriage in 2007 (In re Marriage Cases). He was one of President Obama’s picks for the bench, but never got a vote on the Senate floor. His nomination was eventually withdrawn. To land on his feet at the California Supreme Court is great news.

39 Comments

  • 1. Sagesse  |  July 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Excellent choice.

  • 2. Seth from Maryland  |  July 27, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Colombian High Court Says It Will Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in Two Years if Congress Fails to Do So

    Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2011/07/colombian-high-c

  • 3. Ann S.  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Absolutely!

  • 4. jpmassar  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:09 am

    If Liu were confirmed before oral arguments are heard in the Prop 8 standing case, will he participate in the case?

    Is there a firm date yet for oral arguments?

  • 5. Seth from Maryland  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

    this is really good news , i hope he is in the case

  • 6. Alan_Eckert  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

  • 7. catholic4equality  |  July 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Let's hear it for Nepal which is supposed to have same-sex marriage in its new consitution which will be in force on the 28th (if the provisional government gets it sh*t together this time) wooohooo! We are finally moving in the right direction!

  • 8. catholic4equality  |  July 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

    28th of august*

  • 9. Steve  |  July 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Cue Catholic outrage in 3…2…1

  • 10. Seth from Maryland  |  July 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

    wow i did not know about nepal and that would mean nepal would be the first asian country with marriage equality, i thought after last year republicans took over congress not much would happen, but i was wrong , and it seems as the year continues it even more better

  • 11. Ezam  |  July 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    So, when will the CA Supreme Court start reviewing Perry?

  • 12. straightbutdonthate  |  July 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    http://freemarry.3cdn.net/5ae85613318ade1b2e_8dm6

    Finally, it's politically safe for dems and independents to support gay marriage, and the trends just accelerate greater upward. I hope that in 2012 the Democratic Party adopts the Cuomo style of Northeast/New England fiscal conservatism and social liberalism which helps gain traction with the critically important independent voter bloc and I also hope that a nationally united lgbt lobby steps up to swear in as many pro-equality candidates as we an… let's defeat doma!

  • 13. FlexSF  |  July 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Is anyone really worried how the CSC will answer it's certified question? If the CSC opines that the defendants of 8 don't have standing to appeal, presumably, the gays win. If the CSC opines that the defendants of 8 do have standing to appeal, and the 9th agrees with them, the 9th rules on the merits, and presumably, the gays win. Personally, I hope the ridiculous proponents of 8 are entitled to defend 8. I can't imagine what legal argument any judge could adopt to uphold this harrowing proposition. They deserve a spectacular failure.

  • 14. Steve  |  July 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    It's tricky. On the one hand I think they don't have standing because they aren't harmed. A ruling like that may also discourage other anti-gay groups from jumping into lawsuits or starting them in the first place. On the other hand, I'd like to see the case decided on its merits instead of technicalities.Also, the issue of standing is so complex that the harm aspect will be lost in lots of legalese.

  • 15. Carol  |  July 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I think the 9th Circuit could rule like this: The proponents have no standing because their interests are not affected, BUT even if they did we would rule against them because their arguments are so weak.

  • 16. Bill S.  |  July 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I could be wrong, but I thought the clause in the Constitution that restricts courts to hearing "Cases and Controversies" prohibits this. No standing, no decision on the merits. Courts aren't supposed to issue advisory opinions.

  • 17. Bill S.  |  July 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    It's not quite marriage: the Court is allowing Congress to determine what to call it. It'll probably end up being another "separate-but-equal" setup.

  • 18. Bill S.  |  July 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    If everything goes according to plan in Nepal, then same-sex marriage will be legal on all but one inhabited continent (Australia/Oceania).

  • 19. David Henderson  |  July 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    His confirmation vote is set for August 31 (source). Does anyone know what the timeframe is for him taking his place if he is confirmed? Is it immediate, or is there a gap (e.g. 30 days)?

    Also, with oral arguments on the case starting in early September, would he even be able to participate, if he hasn't had time to participate in all of the briefs? (On the US Supreme Court, new Justices often sit out many of the cases with oral arguments shortly after they are confirmed because they haven't participated in the case up to that point.)

  • 20. Ronnie  |  July 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Subscribing & sharing….. <3…Ronnie:

    Wedding Album: Nirvana and Ruth
    In a series of photo albums, we share stories of couples who got married in New York. Nirvana and Ruth flew in from California, where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized. http://www.advocate.com/Society/Marriage_Equality….

    Wedding Album: Adam and David
    In a series of photo albums, we follow New York couples on their wedding day. Adam and David got married on their seven-year anniversary. http://www.advocate.com/Society/Marriage_Equality….

    Actress Audra McDonald on ABC's "The View" talking about her character on "Private Practice" who has left the show as a main character, coming back to Broadway in "Porgy and Bess", Marriage Equality in New York, about singing at John Feinblatt & Jonathan Mintz's wedding that Mayor Bloomberg officiated (they aired the clip…..gorgeous), & more. I loved everything she said. She is amazing.
    [youtube ad0WAQiH6Mc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad0WAQiH6Mc youtube]

  • 21. Gregory in SLC  |  July 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    OFF TOPIC –

    Got email today detailing HRC bus tour stop in SLC….quite extensive…quite a departure from the NOM bus joyride!

    *************************
    HRC is hitting the road to equality and we're coming to your area! This summer, HRC is embarking on a bus tour across the country to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – and Salt Lake City is the first top in our 15-city tour. Come share what equality means to you, explore the amazing exhibits at the Equality Bus and join us at one of the events below.

    We look forward to bringing even more of HRC's work to you!

    "On the Road to Equality"
    Salt Lake City Schedule of Events
    August 12-14
    Friday, August 12

    CELEBRATE

    Inaugural Stop, Press Conference and Open House
    Utah Pride Center, 3 – 5 p.m.
    355 North 300 West, Salt Lake City

    Join us at the official first-stop of HRC's "On the Road to Equality" and help us inaugurate our tour. Learn about HRC's important programs, meet elected officials, community leaders, and HRC President Joe Solmonese.

    Afterwards, join us for refreshments and an open house. Check out HRC's Equality exhibit, take action, and participate in HRC's "On the Road to Equality" video booth.

    Gavin Creel
    CELEBRATE

    Club Equality at Club Sound
    Club Sound, starting at 9 p.m.
    579 West 200 South, Salt Lake City

    Meet HRC representatives at the Club Equality dance party. Don't miss a performance by Broadway star Gavin Creel. Help HRC raise funds for the Utah Pride Center and have a chance to win tickets to Equality Utah's annual Dinner. This event is for those 18 years old and older and a cover change will apply.

    Saturday , August 13

    LEARN

    Pathway to Acceptance: Supportive Families, Healthy Communities
    Salt Lake City Library, 2–4 p.m.
    210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City

    Join HRC and the Utah Pride Center for a panel discussion featuring Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project. Lean about the impact our community leaders and families have on the lives of youth. The event is free and RSVP suggested.

    Sunday, August 14

    ENGAGE

    "On the Road to Equality" Open House
    Liberty Park, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

    Last chance to tour HRC's bus in Salt Lake City. The Open House is free and open to everyone. Don't miss out!

    ENGAGE

    "On the Run for Equality" 5K Fun-Run
    Join HRC for a 5K fun-run. Look for more information in an upcoming email. Participation fee will be $10 per runner.

    LEARN

    A Public Witness: The Power of Faith Advocacy for Equality
    Episcopal Church Center of Utah, 2–4 p.m.
    75 South 200 East, Salt Lake City

    Join HRC with Equality Utah for a panel discussion on how you can use your faith to speak with your legislators about equality. The event is free and RSVP is suggested.

  • 22. RWG  |  July 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    The case was decided on the merits, by Judge Vaughn Walker. All the rest is sturm und drang.

  • 23. Sagesse  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:02 am

    More background on Goodwin Liu

    LGBTs praise CA Supreme Court pick
    http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&amp

  • 24. Joe  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:22 am

    "If the CSC opines that the defendants of 8 don't have standing to appeal, presumably, the gays win. If the CSC opines that the defendants of 8 do have standing to appeal, and the 9th agrees with them, the 9th rules on the merits, and presumably, the gays win."

    You will then have a circuit split, with one circuit (9th) saying that the voters of state cant change their state constitution based on a vote on the 14th amendment, and another circuit saying they can (8th). Thus the US Supreme Court will have to get involved, because of the differing interpretations of the Constitution. And between the 8th and 9th circuits, who gets overturned more?

  • 25. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I saw a newly-posted article on NOM's site, and it was about the Washington State marriage equality bill. Here's the link, but if anyone stumbles upon another source for information on this issue, that would be great!
    http://www.nomblog.com/11901

    Any opinions?

  • 26. Ronnie  |  July 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Filmmaker Hopes to Document Gay Couple's Surrogacy Journey: VIDEO http://www.towleroad.com/2011/07/surrogacy.html

    Filmmaker Edward Mcdonald is working on a documentary (via Kickstarter) following the surrogacy process of Troy & Ian and their chosen surrogate, Ian's sister LeAndra. Watch the Kickstarter trailer for "More Than a Village" on the other end of the link……. <3…Ronnie

  • 27. Ronnie  |  July 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Massachusetts congressional delegates say "It Gets Better"……….<3…Ronnie:
    [youtube nluLC6F0sRw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nluLC6F0sRw youtube]

  • 28. Sheryl_Carver  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Joe:
    To which ruling of the 8th are you referring?

  • 29. Gregory in SLC  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:51 am

    high quality production….like a big warm hug from caring politicians….tears of appreciation for these people who "get it". (tx 4 posting Ronnie)

  • 30. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I wonder how long it will take for Australia and New Zealand to enact marriage equality. Is there an organized effort similar to what we have in the United States?

  • 31. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:23 am

    the thing is in Australia , the people support marriage equality around 70% but the labor party and the prime minster are a buntch of homophobes, infact (and really sad) none of the major polical parties in Austalia support marriage equality:(

  • 32. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

    http://youtu.be/S9hM–P_9BQ

    this is how crazy it is in Austrailia,

  • 33. Sheryl_Carver  |  July 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Since Joe hasn't responded, I Googled to try to find the case. It may have been mentioned here before, but I don't remember it. Briefly, in Nov 2000, Nebraska voters passed their own version of DOMA. In Apr 2003, this was challenged under the 14th Amendment in US District Court & was ruled unconstitutional in May 2005. The state appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the District Court & reinstated Nebraska's DOMA in Nov 2006.

    I based this summary on the information from this site, which has a LOT of detailed info, but I have no way of knowing its accuracy: http://www.religioustolerance.org/domanb.htm

    IANAL, so even if the information is correct, I have no idea what, if any, affect this has on the Prop 8 situation if the proponents are determined to NOT have standing, or if they DO have standing & the 9th rules Prop 8 unconstitutional.

  • 34. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    That is my understanding as well. No advisory opinions.

  • 35. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    That's insane, and extremely disappointing. I agree with the first comment, the one with 19 thumbs up.

    "Such a shame. How on earth is the gay movement in Australia going to progress when even a gay poltician is against gay? rights, just because of the line of her party? Thats a very tribal way of thinking which gets nobody anywhere in Politics unfortunately, and it seems that the mostly conservative Australian parties need to seriously update their ideals to be in line with the otherwise liberally minded Australian public."

    Now I'm going to do some research on New Zealand.

  • 36. Carol  |  July 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

    You're right, no advisory opinions. But "dicta" are common, where the court says, in effect, "This issue isn't before us and therefore we are not deciding it, but if it were, this is how we would probably decide it." Dicta are not binding precedent because of the case or controversy rule, but they can be useful for litigants and judges in predicting how a court is likely to rule if the issue, or a similar issue, ever comes before it.

  • 37. Ann S.  |  July 29, 2011 at 10:17 am

    That's close — a dictum is a statement not necessary to the final ruling, and therefore not necessarily binding. As an example, in the Arizonans for Official English case, they dismissed the case as moot (the named plaintiff had left the State's employment), but went on to say that there were "grave doubts" about whether the proponents had standing. This was dicta because it was unnecessary in order to reach the conclusion of mootness, but it reflects the Court's thinking.

  • 38. india tours  |  January 18, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Bottom line: Does anyone know if California law compels rejection of the petition if the petition signatures were obtained deceptively? My expertise is not in state laws.

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