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Thursday
May192011

Judicial Setback for Obama: Liu Nomination Blocked by Senate GOP

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, the first time one of President Obama's judicial nominees has been defeated.

Liu needed 60 votes to break through the GOP filibuster and advance to a final up-or-down vote, but he only got 52 votes, with 43 votes against. 

The vote was largely along party lines, with only a few exceptions: Nebraska's Ben Nelson split with his fellow Democrats to vote against Liu, while Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski voted for Liu.

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch voted present, while four senators did not vote at all: David Vitter, R-Louisiana; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas; and Max Baucus, D-Montana.

In the build-up to the vote, Republican leaders had called on their party to close ranks in opposition to Liu. They argued that his record on divisive social issues showed that his judicial thinking was outside the mainstream.

Years ago a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of 14 agreed that judicial nominees should only be blocked in the event of "extraordinary circumstances," but Republicans argued that Liu's nomination fell into that category.

"The extraordinary circumstances are clear -- he's never tried a case, he's very inexperienced, very liberal progressive activist lawyer who believes in a vision of the role of a judge that's contrary to the great American heritage that a judge is an independent adjudicator of disputes and is not one that is -- allows their personal political views to be part of their decision making process," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, a top member of the Judiciary Committee, told ABC's Top Line on Tuesday. "He's the most activist nominee I think we've seen by far."

Across the aisle, Liu's supporters claimed the GOP was merely scared that if Liu was confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, then he could eventually be appointed to the Supreme Court, where he would become the first Asian American nominee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio