There has been much attention recently on the Republican decision to block President Obama’s nomination of law professor Goodwin Liu for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Attention is focused on his allegedly out-of-the-mainstream legal views.

But to this ex-law professor, Liu doesn’t look that unusual. He looks like just another of the dreary succession of tenured law professors who waste their considerable talents spinning “interpretive theories” to justify ever more federal power—particularly in areas outside the federal government’s constitutional responsibility. If you have ever studied Roman law, you will recognize their predecessors in second and third century imperial jurists who tortured the law in their efforts to explain why the Emperor should be all-powerful.

Liu has a long string of publications in prestige law journals, and he writes with the sort of obscurantist left-speak the students who edit those journals love. Here’s sentence chosen pretty much at random from his 2008 Stanford Law Review article, Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights:

“My thesis is that the legitimacy of judicial recognition of welfare rights depends on socially situated modes of reasoning that appeal not to transcendent moral principles for an ideal society, but to the culturally and historically contingent meanings of particular social goods in our own society.”

Content aside, that sort of muck should disqualify anyone applying for a job, such as a judgeship, where you have to do a lot of writing.

By the way, here’s a translation of Liu’s sentence into English: “I think judges should make up welfare rights as they go along.”

Rob Natelson

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