Obama Resubmits Judicial Nominations to Senate

January 6, 2011 - 6:18 AM

Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday resubmitted a batch of federal judicial nominations that didn't clear the Senate last year, including four that provoked strong objections from some Republican lawmakers.

Obama sent 42 names to the Senate. They include 35 nominees for federal district courts and seven for the appellate courts.

The most controversial of the four is Goodwin Liu, a dean at the University of California, Berkeley, law school. Liu was renominated for a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He also is seen as a potential Supreme Court pick by a Democratic president.

Republicans have criticized Liu for negative comments about then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, now a justice on the Supreme Court.

The others contentious nominees are Edward Chen, Louis B. Butler Jr. and John J. McConnell Jr., all nominated to become U.S. District Court judges.

Republicans now control six more seats in the rearranged Senate, making it less likely that lawmakers will approve the most controversial of Obama's picks this time around.

In fact, Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former chairman and still a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pledged immediately to vigorously oppose Obama's "most extreme judiciary nominees." Hatch, R-Utah, said their "activist approach would control rather than follow the Constitution."

Republicans criticized Liu's nomination from the start.

At the dean's Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., noted Liu's criticism of Alito after President George W. Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court.

Liu said at the time that Alito's vision of America is one "where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy.where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, even after no sign of resistance.where the FBI may install a camera where you sleep.where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man absent. analysis showing discrimination."

Kyl called the comments vicious, and emotionally and racially charged."

Liu later said he used "unnecessarily colorful language" and that he had the highest regard for Alito's career. Liu said his remarks followed a 14-page analysis of Alito's rulings. Alito had been a federal appellate court judge before he was elevated to the high court.

Also Wednesday, Obama resubmitted the nomination of James Cole to become deputy attorney general, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

With Congress out of session last week, Obama bypassed the Senate and gave Cole what is known as a recess appointment. That means Cole, who is a close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder, can serve in the post until the end of 2011. Republican lawmakers had blocked his confirmation partly because of questions about his role as an independent consultant for American International Group before the insurer's near-collapse led to a government bailout in 2008.

The Senate confirmed 12 of Obama's judicial nominees before Congress wrapped up its outstanding business last month.