Bird In Hand: Jerry Brown Nominates Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court

Jerry Brown looks to be repeating one of the greatest errors of his first term(s) as governor: appointing a hard leftist to the state Supreme Court. Back in the Seventies it was Rose Bird. In the 21st century, it's Goodwin Liu, last seen being bounced from a federal appeals court nomination.

Goodwin Liu, the UC Berkeley law professor whose federal appeals court appointment was blocked by Republicans, emerged on a judicial forum of at least equal stature Tuesday when he became Gov. Jerry Brown's first nominee to the California Supreme Court.

Liu's appointment to the court comes two months after his nomination to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was scuttled by Senate filibuster. He would succeed Carlos Moreno, who retired in February as the only Democratic appointee on the seven-member state court.

Liu has "the background, the intellect and the vision to really help our California Supreme Court again be one of the great courts in the nation," Brown said at a news conference. He said the only criticism of Liu has come from "some of the more fanatical Republicans ... the ideologues on the right."

Interestingly, Liu's nomination will give the California Supreme Court an Asian-American majority. California's Latino community, or at least those members of the "community" who keep track of the spoils system, are already bitching and moaning.

The governor had widely been expected to name a Latino. The state high court has no Latino or African American justices.

The new appointment would fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Carlos R. Moreno, 62, the only Latino and only Democrat on the court. Moreno was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.

Some Latino bar leaders expressed anger and disappointment at Liu’s selection.

“It should have been a Latino and somebody who was native to Southern California,” said Victor Acevedo, president of the Mexican-American Bar Assn.

“We are almost the majority of the people of the state of California, and for the governor to say there isn’t one Latino who is qualified to serve on the court is extremely troubling,” he said. “That to me is like the governor turning a cold shoulder to the Latino community in Southern California.”

The court has no justices who currently reside in Southern California since the retirements of Moreno and Chief Justice Ronald M. George.

Eh, Moreno was probably the least distinguished member of the CASC. Brown, at least, is naming a progressive superstar, which is more useful to his long-term goals than seeking out some mediocrity to fill a "Latino seat." Supposedly, he considered Thomas Saenz, but that worthy was held to be "too liberal." I shudder to think what level of leftist you have to be too liberal for Jerry Brown, such that Goodwin Liu seemed the reasonable choice by comparison.

It may also be hard to believe, but Liu will also be the only Democrat-appointed justice on the CASC. That's right the "liberal" California Supreme Court is made up almost exclusively of Republican appointees. Not that this has made a lick of difference.

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