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Leahy Defends Obama Court Pick, Urges GOP Cooperation

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) defended federal appellate court nominee Goodwin Liu Wednesday and called for GOP cooperation in clearing all of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees.

Leahy’s comments, in a letter sent to Judiciary Republicans, comes one day after GOP Senators chastised Liu for submitting incomplete answers to the panel’s questionnaire and omitting records detailing his stance on affirmative action and civil rights. Liu sent supplementary materials to the committee on April 5.

Liu’s omissions and subsequent resubmission “hardly disqualify him from serious consideration by the committee,” Leahy said.

“I believe a fair and thoughtful review of his record, and a public and open exchange during his confirmation hearing, will demonstrate his faithfulness to the rule of law,” the chairman added.

Republicans asserted Tuesday that Liu’s omissions on the questionnaire were grounds for disqualifying his nomination. Additionally, they charge the University of California, Berkeley, law professor, nominated to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is an extremist pick; they charge he would be an activist judge on a court that’s widely viewed as the country’s most liberal.

In his letter Wednesday, Leahy charged that Republicans were slow-walking Liu’s nomination, which he suggested could spell trouble for the 22 judicial nominees currently lagging on the Senate calendar.

“I had hoped in this new year we could put political rancor aside and come together to openly and fairly debate President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees,” said Leahy, whose panel could consider another Supreme Court pick in the coming months. “I am disappointed that instead we have seen the same delays and obstructionist approach towards these nominees on the Senate floor extend to the committee’s consideration.”

Liu is scheduled to testify before the Judiciary panel on April 16.

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