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Goodwin Liu’s Views on Reparations Should Automatically Disqualify Him from the Judiciary

Morgen on May 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

Well, tomorrow’s the day. Word came out late yesterday that Harry Reid has scheduled a cloture vote for Goodwin Liu, Obama’s controversial nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There are numerous reasons for conservatives to oppose Liu’s nomination, but I don’t think anything better captures just how far out of the mainstream Liu’s views are than his 2008 comments on reparations for slavery. What are you willing to give up?

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The truth distorters at Media Matters must realize how damaging this clip could be to Liu’s nomination, because they have been bizarrely and repeatedly claiming that Liu was not even speaking about reparations ever since we first posted this. Which is complete nonsense of course, as this extended clip from the panel discussion makes even more clear. Liu (and the preceding speaker) were speaking about one topic and one topic only: reparations.

You know if Liu had stopped after his line about distinguishing between guilt and moral responsibility in dealing with the legacy of slavery, I don’t think this would be a problem. But he didn’t. It’s clear – perfectly, irrefutably clear – that in his view the legacy of slavery requires an even greater cost from society than has already been paid. Most concerning of all, the types of recompense which Liu envisions we may have to offer in the name of social justice…i.e. a seat at college, where we live and send our children to school, and yes, money (ahem, reparations)…will undoubtably be issues at play in cases which would come before him. Most civil court cases, by definition, involve a dispute over rights or property, where the judges’ decision will ultimately result in one party “giving something up” in favor of the other party. And some of these very issues (e.g. affirmative action, welfare rights) are still being adjudicated in the courts.

These views should automatically disqualify Goodwin Liu him from the judiciary. How can someone who has unequivocally stated that society has a moral obligation to compensate others for actions none of us were responsible for, and included money and individual rights as specific examples of what we may need to give up, be considered an impartial arbiter of the law? All judges are expected to put aside personal views, but Liu made a very public and passionate proclamation that this is a moral responsibility for society, not just for himself.

To be blunt, if you are not among the 13.6% of Americans who are black, and you are sitting in court on the opposite side of the table from someone who is, how do you know that Judge Liu is not going to choose this moment to enforce this “moral duty to make things right” upon you? How do we know that he won’t enforce this upon all of us with broader legal questions which may come before his court?

The fact of the matter is we don’t, and given his apparent attempt to hide some of his most controversial views prior to his initial confirmation hearing, I don’t think the Senate should trust him with a lifetime appointment to the bench.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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