Law & Courts

9th Circuit Choice Gets Timely Praise

By Michele McNeil — April 19, 2010 1 min read

Goodwin H. Liu, a prominent constitutional scholar from the University of California, Berkeley who is an expert on educational equity issues, is facing a tough confirmation fight in the face of conservative opposition to his nomination to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

But a bipartisan group of education policy experts, including Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond and the American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick M. Hess, has rallied to the defense of Mr. Liu, a former U.S. Department of Education official under President Bill Clinton.

The nomination has outraged some conservatives because of his support of traditionally liberal issues such as same-sex marriage and affirmative action, according to news media reports. Mr. Liu also has been mentioned as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

In a recent letter to key senators, a bipartisan group of 22 education policy experts urged the Senate to approve his nomination. The list includes Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, Stanford University’s Eric A. Hanushek, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and James W. Guthrie of the George W. Bush Institute.

The letter praises Mr. Liu, who was to have a hearing late last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, for his knowledge of 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.”

Mr. Liu has written extensively on education policy, including an essay in the Harvard Law & Policy Review in 2008 critical of the high court’s 2007 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, which sharply limits the ability of districts to take race into account in assigning students to schools.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as 9th Circuit Choice Gets Timely Praise

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