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In February of 2010, President Obama nominated Liu to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but the Senate blocked the nomination. In May, Obama nominated Liu to the court again but the nomination was met with further resistance by conservatives who feared that his liberal views verged on extremism. Republicans further cited Liu's attacks on then Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito at his 2006 confirmation hearings. Liu later said that some of his comments against Alito were unnecessary but is still regarded as a threat to conservative ideals due to his views on gay rights and the death penalty.
It is likely that Liu's latest nomination will meet approval from the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which includes Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Joan Dempsey Klein, California's senior presiding appeals court justice. If confirmed, Liu will take office immediately, thus ensuring his presence during the presentation of arguments surrounding the controversial 2008 Proposition 8 ballot measure that reestablished prohibitions on same-sex marriages. The California Supreme Court will determine if advocates of the initiative can lawfully appeal court orders against the measures they sponsored.
If Liu's nomination is approved by the commission, voters will have their say on the matter in the November 2014 election. Liu would replace retired Justice Carlos Moreno, a Democrat and the court's only Latino member. As the potential fourth Asian member of the court, Liu's nomination has received disapproval from more than just the Republican Party. Some bar activists have argued that Brown should have replaced Moreno with another Latino nominee. ''We are almost the majority of the people of the state of California and for the governor to say that there isn't one Latino who is qualified to serve on the court is extremely troubling,'' said President of the Mexican-American Bar Assn. Victor Acevedo. However, Brown argues that he chose Liu because he is a ''well-rounded, good human being.'' Brown further notes that regardless of who is nominated, some group will be excluded. The court does not currently have any Latino or African American members. However, Liu remarked that the court make-up is irrelevant in the large picture. ''We are all Americans. We are all Californians. The accidents of birth, though they indicate biography and life experience, it's just part of a larger mosaic,'' said Liu.
As it turns out, Liu's failed nomination to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals actually catapulted him to the top of the state court candidate list. ''The dysfunctionality in Washington and the blockage at all costs by the more extreme Republicans-I don't think that should be given a lot of intellectual weight,'' said Brown, who is confident in Liu's ability to serve the court effectively.
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