Press Releases and Media Advisories

Press Release

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

President Obama Nominates Berkeley Law’s Goodwin Liu for U.S. Court of Appeals

Contact: Susan Gluss, 510.642.6936,


President Barack Obama today nominated UC Berkeley Law Professor and Associate Dean Goodwin Liu to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Liu, an award-winning teacher and scholar with experience in government and private practice, would become the sole Asian American sitting as an active judge on the Ninth Circuit, if confirmed by the Senate.

“I am very humbled by this nomination and grateful to President Obama for this honor,” Liu said.  “I also thank California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their support and confidence in me, and I look forward to working with the Senate Judiciary Committee in the confirmation process.”

“Goodwin Liu is an outstanding teacher, a brilliant scholar, and an exceptional public servant,” said Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley.  “He is widely admired for his intellect, fairness, and good judgment – this is a superb nomination.  He is one of the most capable colleagues I’ve had in my three decades in academia.  I hate the thought of Berkeley losing him, but it’s a higher calling and the nation’s gain.  His ability to analyze, communicate, and inspire will make him a favorite among litigants and a leader among judges.”

Tom Campbell, former dean of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, said, “Goodwin will bring scholarly distinction and a strong reputation for integrity, fair-mindedness, and collegiality to the Ninth Circuit.”  Campbell, a former law professor who served nine years in Congress as a Republican, added, “Having served with Goodwin on a volunteer board at Stanford and as colleagues at UC Berkeley, I am not surprised that he has again been called to public service.”

Liu joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2003 and earned tenure and promotion to Associate Dean in 2008.  A nationally recognized expert on issues of educational equity, he won the Education Law Association’s Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in 2007.  Liu is also a popular and acclaimed teacher, winning UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009, the university’s highest honor for teaching excellence.

Before coming to Berkeley Law, Liu practiced as a litigation attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of O’Melveny & Myers.  He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  He also served as a special assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and as a senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service.

“As an accomplished scholar and teacher who has also worked in government and private practice, Goodwin has a breadth of experience that will be an invaluable addition to the Ninth Circuit,” said Boalt alumna Holly Fujie, a partner at Buchalter Nemer and immediate past president of the California State Bar.  “I am delighted that the bench and bar will have the benefit of his remarkable talents, and I am excited that this nomination will add diversity to the federal courts of appeal.”

“Goodwin Liu is an outstanding choice for the Ninth Circuit,” said Berkeley Law professor and former dean Herma Hill Kay.  “He is an intellectually honest scholar who demonstrates sincere respect for and sensitivity to the ideas and concerns of many different kinds of people.”

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Liu grew up in Sacramento and attended public schools until he went to college at Stanford University.  After graduating with honors, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree at Oxford.  He graduated from Yale Law School in 1998 and joined the California bar in 1999, making him the first person in his family to become a lawyer.

The Ninth Circuit, headquartered in San Francisco, is the largest of the thirteen federal courts of appeals, with jurisdiction over cases from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.