Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Re: The ABA and Ninth Circuit Nominee Goodwin Liu


For some perspective on the ABA’s ridiculous “well qualified” rating of Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, consider its treatment of Frank Easterbrook’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit. 

Easterbrook had been out of law school for 11 years when President Reagan first nominated him in August 1984 and for just under 12 years (the same as Liu) when Reagan renominated him in February 1985.  After a judicial clerkship, Easterbrook had spent four years in the Office of the Solicitor General, first as an Assistant to the Solicitor General, then as Deputy Solicitor General.  By the time of his nomination, he had argued 20 cases before the Supreme Court (compared to Liu’s zero—indeed, it appears that Liu has never argued a single appeal anywhere*).  Easterbrook had spent about as much time in academia as Liu by the time of his first nomination (and about a year more by the time of his renomination).

So what rating did the ABA give Easterbrook?  A mixed, and very low, “qualified/not qualified.”

* [3/1 update]  I see from Liu’s Senate questionnaire response that he did argue one case—a federal inmate’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit of the FBI’s denial of his FOIA request.  (Liu volunteered to be assigned to be pro bono counsel to the inmate.)

Tags: Whelan


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review