Senate Republicans delay controversial appellate court pick Goodwin Liu

Senate Republicans have delayed committee action on Goodwin Liu, President Barack Obama’s pick for the 9th Circuit appellate court, for one week.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered in the President’s Room just off the Senate floor Thursday afternoon to consider Liu and several other nominees.

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The committee advanced four district court nominees but held up Liu, who has become a political lightning rod.

Republicans exercised their prerogative to delay a committee vote on Liu until next week. The four nominees advanced by the committee were also delayed a week by Republicans, according to a Democratic aide.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has scheduled a panel vote on Liu for May 13.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who attended the meeting, called the delay “standard operating procedure for Republicans.”

Whitehouse held a press conference earlier Thursday to highlight that Republicans have held up 96 of Obama’s nominees.

Whitehouse praised Liu’s qualifications: “He seems to be bright, professorial, talented.”

Liu’s nomination has come to be seen as a warm-up fight before the looming battle to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

The New York Times has described Liu as a “liberal rock star,” and some Republicans want to send a message to Obama not to pick an overly liberal successor to Stevens.