August 2011

  • August 31, 2011

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Goodwin Liu, the UC Berkeley Law professor, whose nomination to a federal appeals court was scuttled by Republican obstructionism in the U.S. Senate, was today easily confirmed to a spot on the California Supreme Court.

    After a little more than an hour of testimony from supporters of Liu’s nomination, the California Commission on Judicial Appointments unanimously confirmed the nomination. As noted by the San Jose Mercury News, “no individual or group” had asked the Commission to testify against Liu’s nomination.

    Following the Commission’s vote, Liu thanked his supporters, and called the confirmation process the most enjoyable and comfortable known to mankind. Liu (pictured) also thanked the commission for its “confidence in me.”

    ACS Board Chair Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, applauded Liu’s accomplishment, but knocked the U.S. Senate for its flawed judicial nominations process.

    “Goodwin Liu is exceptionally well qualified to serve as a Justice on California’s Supreme Court,” Stone said. “He has a rich record of achievement, including thoughtful and influential legal scholarship and distinguished public service. But for an irresponsible and highly partisan federal judicial nominations process in the U.S. Senate, Goodwin Liu would already be a federal court of appeals judge of extraordinary promise. But, happily, when one door closes another one opens, and there is now plenty to celebrate, with Justice Liu’s much-deserved confirmation to the California Supreme Court.”

    ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson said, “Having worked with Goodwin during his tenure as chair of the ACS Board, I can personally attest to his extraordinary leadership capabilities and his deep understanding of complex legal issues, as well as his passionate commitment to the rule of law. Goodwin Liu will be an invaluable asset to California’s high court.”

    Gov. Jerry Brown will preside over Liu’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow at 12 p.m., PDT. The ceremony can be viewed via a live broadcast here.

  • August 31, 2011

    by Jeremy Leaming

    UC Berkeley Law school professor Goodwin Liu, whose nomination to the federal bench was successfully filibustered by Senate Republicans, is receiving a much different reception in California, where his nomination to the state’s Supreme Court is expected to be voted on later today.

    The San Jose Mercury News reports that today’s confirmation hearing “appears as if it will be a downright lovefest.” The newspaper notes that the three-member commission, which will vote on Liu’s nomination made by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this summer, will hear from supporters of the nomination, because “no individual or group” had asked to speak against Liu. The vast majority of letters submitted to the commission favor Liu’s (pictured) nomination. A small number of letters, including one from the right-wing outfit Judicial Watch, argued against confirmation.

    Following today’s hearing, 3 p.m., PDT, the three-member commission is expected to vote on confirming the nomination. The hearing will be broadcast live here.

    The California Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation also gave Liu, the former chair of the ACS Board of Directors, its highest evaluation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    Alice A. Salvo, chairwoman of the state Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, wrote, “Professor Liu possesses a brilliant intellect, alone with exceptional gifts for research and writing, which allow him to parse complex and obscure legal doctrines and present them in the form of viable understandable concepts.”

    Liu, a son of Taiwanese immigrants, was born in Georgia and grew up in Sacramento. Had Liu been confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, he would have added greatly needed diversity to the Circuit. Republican senators and right-wing activists groups, however, launched a campaign to distort Liu’s academic scholarship and deride his work for public interest groups. Some senators also said they could not get over Liu’s criticism of then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. The New York Times in an editorial blasted the opposition to Liu’s nomination as “laughably thin.”  

    Following the filibuster of Liu’s nomination to the federal bench, ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson blasted the obstruction as disgraceful. “Of the 160 active judges on the federal appeals court, there is not one active Asian Pacific American judge on the Ninth Circuit,” she said.

  • August 30, 2011

    by Nicole Flatow

    If her judicial nomination had been considered by today’s Senate, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she might never have been confirmed, The Associated Press reports.

    "Today, my ACLU connection would probably disqualify me," said Ginsburg, who served as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and helped launch the organization’s Women’s Rights Project.

    Ginsburg was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by a vote of 96-3. She had also been confirmed in 1980 to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    Ginsburg also spoke out about Senate obstruction of judicial nominations last August, calling for greater Senate cooperation in confirming judicial nominees to our lower federal courts.

    “With ABA encouragement, may the U.S. Senate someday return to the collegial, bipartisan spirit that Justice Breyer and I had the good fortune to experience," she said during the American Bar Association’s annual meeting.

  • August 30, 2011
    Guest Post

    By Michael R. Siebecker, Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law

    Recently, a group of law professors petitioned the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) to adopt rules requiring corporations to disclose expenditures for political activities. The petition advances a variety of convincing yet fairly conservative arguments supporting both the need to adopt new political disclosure rules and the mechanisms for disseminating sufficient information. Although the petition adopts a properly dispassionate tone and focuses on pragmatic steps the SEC could easily take, the potential implications of a failure to adopt a political expenditure disclosure rule, or of a defeat of any new disclosure rule based on a First Amendment challenge, are much more striking than the petition conveys.

    First, the failure to require public corporations to disclose their political expenditures would exacerbate a tragedy of transparency that already threatens the collapse of the market for corporate social responsibility (CSR), where consumers and investors employ various political, social, environmental, or ethical screening criteria before purchasing a company’s stock or products. On a worldwide basis, owners or managers of assets exceeding $14 trillion make investment decisions based on one or more CSR criteria. 

    In an efficient market, fully informed consumers and investors could reward companies that engage in desired CSR practices by purchasing their products or stock, and, conversely, could punish companies that fail to engage in desired practices by refusing to purchase their products or stock. To the extent consumer and investor preferences for CSR provide compliant companies greater economic benefits (e.g., through higher consumer prices, stock premiums, or cheaper access to capital) than the cost of embracing CSR practices, an opportunity for true wealth creation exists that satisfies the preferences of consumers, investors, and corporate shareholders alike. That classic win-win opportunity quickly devolves into economic waste, however, if investors and consumers stop rewarding companies for engaging in socially responsible behavior. 

  • August 30, 2011

    by Jeremy Leaming

    As conservative lawmakers and right-wing activists keep churning out attacks against the efforts of the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) to enforce federal labor law, The New York Times talked with outgoing chairwoman Wilma Liebman about the origins of some of the Right’s vitriol.

    Liebman (pictured) tells the newspaper that attacks against the Board, which is charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), tend to be cyclical – depending on which political party is in power (the NLRB is an independent federal agency, but the president appoints members to the five-member board). She adds, however, that she believes the NLRA, enacted during the New Deal has never been fully accepted by many people. The NLRA, as Liebman points out, was intended to ensure that workers have the right to engage in collective bargaining and other actions to protect their rights against increasingly powerful corporations. Not surprisingly, the article includes comments from U.S. Chamber of Commerce deriding actions by the Board to safeguard workers’ rights. Recently the NLRB drew consternation from business groups when it ordered private employers to post information about workers’ rights to bargain collectively and form unions.

    Liebman defends collective bargaining as a major reason for the creation of the nation’s middle class, and as a tool to strengthen the economy.

    “If you increase workers’ purchasing power, that can create a stronger, more substantial economy,” she said.