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Goodwin Liu Makes Bench Debut on California Supreme Court

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Goodwin Liu made his debut on the bench as a Justice for the California Supreme Court on Tuesday in a controversial case regarding Proposition 8 -- California’s ban on same sex marriage.   

At issue in the case is whether supporters of Prop 8 , which was struck down in August of 2010, can defend the initiative in federal court since the official defendants, California’s Democratic governor and attorney general, have declined to do so.  Liu asked several questions of lawyers on both sides of the issue.

Liu’s path to the bench was not without controversy.  Although President Obama nominated him in 2010 to a seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Liu later had to withdraw his name after Republican Senators expressed concerns regarding his judicial philosophy.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions called Liu, who is a former Berkeley law professor, “a very liberal activist lawyer.”

After the Republicans successfully filibustered his nomination, Liu asked to have his name removed from consideration.  Supporters of Liu said at the time that the Republicans real reason for blocking Liu’s nomination was their fear that he might someday become a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In July, Gov. Jerry Brown nominated him to the California Supreme Court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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