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UC Berkeley Law Professor Withdraws Appeals Court Nomination

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Goodwin Liu during his Senate confirmation hearing in July 2010. (C-SPAN)

Goodwin Liu during his Senate confirmation hearing in July 2010. (C-SPAN)

BERKELEY (CBS / AP) — A liberal legal scholar is withdrawing his nomination to an appeals court judgeship after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation last week.

Goodwin Liu, 40, said in a letter to President Barack Obama Wednesday that he and family need “to make plans for the future” now that there is little prospect of a Senate vote on his nomination.

Obama nominated Liu, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Liu is seen as potentially the first Asian American Supreme Court nominee, and time as an appeals court judge would have burnished his credentials.

His nomination cheered liberal interest groups, but aroused strong opposition from Republicans who objected to his record and opposition to Republican Supreme Court nominees.

Democrats failed to come up with the 60 votes they needed to end a Republican filibuster that included several senators who previously had pledged not to filibuster judicial nominees except under extraordinary circumstances.

In the letter to Obama, Liu said the 9th Circuit, including California and several other Western states, has a “desperate need for judges.”

Liu said that “it is now clear that continuing my nomination will not address that need any time soon.” The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

The federal judiciary says there are 86 vacancies in the federal courts, and that Obama has nominated 47 people, including Liu, to fill them.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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