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Goodwin Liu would give California Supreme Court an Asian majority

July 26, 2011 | 10:59 am

Goodwin Liu. Click to enlarge. If his nomination is confirmed to the California Supreme Court, UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu would give the state’s highest court an Asian majority for the first time in its history.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday nominated Liu, 40, to the court, which would give the seven-member panel it’s fourth Asian.

Liu, a graduate of Yale Law School, is the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He was born in Georgia, grew up in Sacramento and has a history of public service.

Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye was appointed in 2010 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and was sworn into office in January, making her the first Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state's chief justice.

Associate Justice Ming W. Chin, the son of Chinese immigrants, was appointed to the court by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1996, and Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard, who is part Indonesian, was appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian in 1989.

Liu’s appointment would fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Carlos R. Moreno, 62, the only Latino and only Democrat on the court. Moreno was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.

The governor had been considering several Latino candidates. There are no Latinos or African Americans on the court.

Brown has forwarded Liu’s name to the State Bar’s Commission of Judicial Nominees Evaluation. The appointment will not become final until the Commission on Judicial Appointments -- consisting of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, senior presiding justice of the state Court of Appeal -- confirms the nomination.


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Photo: UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu in his office in March 2010. Credit: Laura Morton / For The Times