WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the nomination of University of California at Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the federal appeals court in San Francisco, making Liu the first judicial nominee named by President Barack Obama to be successfully filibustered.
The move appears to doom Liu’s chances of becoming the first Asian-American on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which includes California, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon, all states with significant or growing Asian populations.
Democrats failed to come close to the 60 votes needed to override the filibuster. The final tally was 52-43. It was the first judicial pick to be blocked outright on the Senate floor since George W. Bush’s first term.
Liu’s nomination had languished for more than year, but Thursday marked the first attempt by Senate Democrats to force a floor vote on Liu, who has been fiercely opposed by Republicans for what they say are too-liberal legal views.
The GOP may also have been wary of Liu’s age and future prospects. Just 40, he would be a prime candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court in coming years should he be confirmed.
The nominee’s chances for success have never been strong.
And in the end, Liu did worse than projected, with just one Republican supporting him, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who faces a difficult re-election fight, voting with the GOP.