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Controversial Court Pick Attracts Bipartisan Edu-Fan Club

By Michele McNeil — April 13, 2010 1 min read

Goodwin H. Liu, a prominent constitutional scholar from the University of California-Berkeley who’s an expert in educational equity issues such as desegregation, has a fight on his hands as he faces a confirmation hearing Friday for a post on the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

But a bipartisan group of education policy experts, from Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond to AEI’s Rick Hess, are rallying to his defense.

This Washington Post story story explains why Liu is so controversial, energizing the left and outraging the right as he supports traditionally liberal issues such as same-sex marriage and affirmative action. His appellate court nomination is important, The Post writes, because he might be getting groomed for an eventual U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Russo over at This Week in Education has more about Liu’s work as a Clinton-era U.S. Department of Education official.

In a March 23 letter to key U.S. Senators, a truly diverse and bipartisan group of 22 education policy experts are urging the U.S. Senate to approve his nomination. The list of Liu’s cheerleaders include Mike Petrilli of Fordham and Flypaper fame, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Stanford’s Rick Hanushek and Darling-Hammond, AEI’s Hess, New York City Schools’ Chancellor Joel Klein, and James Guthrie of the George W. Bush Institute.

The letter praises Liu for his knowledge and concern for issues facing disadvantaged students, declaring his work to be “nuanced and balanced, not dogmatic or ideological.”

“We do not necessarily agree with all of Professor Liu’s views,” the letter reads. “But we do agree that his record demonstrates the habits of rigorous inquiry, open-mindedness, independence, and intellectual honesty that we want and expect our judges to have.”

His hearing is set for Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.