NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Goodwin Liu, whose nomination to a federal appeals bench was blocked in the U.S. Senate in May, received a glowing review from the California judicial commission vetting his nomination to the state's highest court.
California Governor Jerry Brown nominated Liu, 40, to serve as a state Supreme Court justice in late July. The state bar's Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation called Liu "exceptionally well qualified" in a letter to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. The letter, dated August 25, was publicly released by the high court yesterday.
The commission said Liu was an expert on constitutional law and education law and policy. The commission praised his work as a scholar and an appellate litigator.
"His extraordinary background in constitutional law, as well as the breadth of his life experience and public service, will contribute a valuable perspective to the state's highest court," the chief of the commission, Alice Salvo, said in the letter.
A professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Liu was a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and practiced for two years at the law firm O'Melveny & Myers in Washington.
Liu's nomination to the federal bench sparked heated public debate, with liberal groups lining up behind him and conservatives arguing that Liu's judicial philosophy was outside the mainstream. In the end, Senate Republicans blocked Liu from a floor vote.
The wounds from Liu's confirmation battle are still apparent in his 29-page application to the California Supreme Court, which was also made public yesterday. The application, for example, noted the opposition Liu had garnered from a group of district attorneys over Liu's views on criminal law, which Liu said was a "mischaracterization."
A public hearing on Liu is scheduled for tomorrow at 3pm California time in San Francisco. He must be confirmed by the state's Commission on Judicial Appointments.
Ten people are scheduled to speak at the hearing, all in support of Liu, including Christopher Edley, the dean of Berkeley law school and Debra Zumwalt, the general counsel of Stanford University.
Liu's nomination to the California court generated an outpouring of support and opposition. Twenty-four letters opposed to Liu were filed with the court, and more than 35 letters, including some signed collectively by law professors and former California state bar presidents, were registered in Liu's support.
(Reporting by Carlyn Kolker)
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