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Goodwin Liu, Tougher on Punishment than We Thought

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President Obama has re-nominated radical Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu for the already out-to-sea Ninth Circuit.  Kent, I and many others supporting resolute law enforcement have expressed more than a little doubt abourt Liu.

Perhaps we should take another look.  Part of the punishment that can (and ought more often) be ordered at sentencing is restitution to the victim.  It turns out that Prof. Liu has spoken out strongly in favor of restitution.

Of course there's a catch, as there almost always is with Obama's nominees.  Prof. Liu doesn't require that the "victim" receiving the goodies actually be a victim; being the great grandson or something is close enough.   Nor does he require that the person forced to provide the goodies be convicted of anything  --  or, for that matter, be responsible for anything.

Nope.  Liu's criterion for being ordered to pay restitution has nothing to do with an individual's behavior at all.  It has to do with being white. 

This astonishing, race-based and upside-down view of responsibility is something Liu has not been shy about.  He has set it all out, as recounted by my friend Ed Whelan, here (emphasis added):

Then there's a further issue, which is that maybe there are white families who were not involved as directly or even indirectly with the slave trade, but who still benefited from it. And then there is the whole question, which you put on the table, about people who came to America after, and, you know, like my family. And why is it that this movie speaks to me so deeply yet?

And so, what I would do, I think I would draw a distinction between a concept of guilt, which locates accountability in a sort of limited set of wrong-doers, and, on the other hand, a concept of responsibility, which is, I think, a more broad suggestion that all of us, whatever our lineage, whatever our ancestry, whatever our complicity, still have a moral duty to ... make things right. And that's a moral duty that's incumbent upon everybody who inherits this nation, regardless of whatever the history is.

And I think, to add one more point on top of that, the exercise of that responsibility ... necessarily requires the answer to the question, "What are we willing to give up to make things right?" Because it's gonna require us to give up something, whether it is the seat at Harvard, the seat at Princeton. Or is it gonna require us to give up our segregated neighborhoods, our segregated schools? Is it gonna require us to give up our money?

It's gonna require giving up something, and so until we can have that further conversation of what it is we're willing to give up, I agree that the reconciliation can't fully occur.

"Reconciliation," incidentally, is another of those words that belongs in my Dictionary for the Politically Incorrect.  What it means is "taking something away from a person who's earned it to give to a person in a Leftist constituency."
 
But I digress.  My own experience is that, when a person sees responsibility where none exists (which is bad enough, and disqualifying per se), he is also prone to see no responsibility where it does exist (which is also disqualifying per se, if what we're talking about is one's fitness to be a judge).  You don't need much imagination to see how that's going to work in a criminal case. 
 
What more do we need to know about Professor Liu?
 
 
 
 
 
 

3 Comments

How a jurist views personal responsibility is critical. Like most of what I have read about Liu, his views frighten me.

I read that John Yoo has spoken in favor of this nomination????????????

A jurist's view of individual responsibility is telling. Liu's view is most troubling.

How does John Yoo support this guy?

Yoo has been quoted as saying, “he’s not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he’s a very good choice.”

There is some context going on here, one must understand. Liu and Yoo are faculty members at the same law school, and as a matter of longstanding ettiquette, it's very unusual for one professor to speak out against a colleague. It might also be the case (though I don't know this) that Liu spoke up privately for Yoo when Yoo was getting put on the griddle at DOJ, and an adverse eithics ruling by DOJ could have hurt Yoo professionally. Finally, there is such a thing as the battered-conservative-on-the-law-school-faculty type-person who starts to turn mushy after a few years of being immersed in academic formaldehyde. In more political contexts, this is called becoming a "useful idiot Republican." Democrats and Meet the Press are geniuses at finding them.

What I think is going on with John is that he knows Liu at bit; Liu has been personally pleasant and has never made John a target at the Law School; and, indeed, given other even more Left Wing candidates that Obama could pick, particularly in Northern California, John has concluded, as he said, that, Liu is about as smart and honest as we're going to get.

Whether I agree with John is not the question. I admire him for taking a stand during a difficult and turbulent time at DOJ, and I don't have to live in his shoes as a member of, of all things, the Berkeley law faculty.

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