Republicans Again Seek Postponement of Liu Hearing

Posted April 15, 2010 at 3:42pm

Updated: 7:35 p.m.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee again called for postponing the confirmation hearing for controversial federal appellate court nominee Goodwin Liu on Thursday after discovering additional omissions from his questionnaire.

“There is now a serious question as to whether Professor Liu has approached this process with the degree of candor and respect required of nominees who come before the Committee,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the panel’s ranking member, wrote to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

But Leahy, in a written reply to Sessions on Thursday evening, said Liu’s hearing would proceed as scheduled Friday morning.

Committee Republicans recently demanded that Liu’s hearing be postponed after discovering that he failed to disclose 117 items from his record. On Thursday, one day before Liu is scheduled to testify before the panel, Republicans said they discovered an additional nine missing items and again called for more time for proper vetting.

“We can no longer extend him the benefit of the doubt that these substantial omissions — in which several of his more extreme statements appear — were a mere oversight,” Sessions’s letter reads.

Democrats strongly support Liu’s nomination and, in a Democratic Policy Committee meeting with White House officials Thursday, upheld President Barack Obama’s judicial pick. Democrats have also stepped up their criticism of Republicans’ reactions to nominees over the last week, blasting the minority for employing stall tactics and holding up even noncontroversial picks from being confirmed.

Republicans have charged that Liu, nominated to serve on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is an extreme choice who would use his position on the court to advance a liberal agenda and advocate for universal health care. Some GOPers are also sharpening their knives over Liu’s nomination in the face of a Supreme Court battle this summer. At 39 years old, Liu, some Republicans also fear, could one day be tapped to serve on the high court.

“As we approach the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings, it is very important to me that we continue our good working relationship — a relationship that I very much appreciate,” Sessions wrote. “Accordingly, it is my hope that you will postpone the hearing currently scheduled for this Friday to allow the Committee adequate time to review Professor Liu’s extensive record and newly discovered materials.”

Asked whether he would filibuster Liu’s nomination if it hits the Senate floor, Sessions said he was unsure but left the door open.

“I’m reluctant to filibuster. … It’s not something I look forward to,” Sessions said, adding that he would explore whether Liu’s nomination meets the extraordinary circumstances that would justify a hold up.

Liu is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. Friday for a confirmation hearing.