Leahy Refuses to Delay Hearing for Controversial Judicial Nominee

Democrats refused Wednesday to delay the confirmation hearing for one of President Obama's most controversial judicial nominees a day after Republicans slammed the candidate for failing to initially disclose more than 100 of his speeches, publications and other background materials.

The hearing for Goodwin Liu, a Berkeley law professor nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, already had been postponed twice. Republicans have targeted Liu for his writings suggesting health care is a right and describing the U.S. Constitution as a document that should adapt to changes in the world.

On Tuesday, Republicans asked for an additional delay after Liu gave the Senate Judiciary Committee a bundle of supplemental material that contained 117 things he left out after his February nomination.

But Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to Republicans Wednesday that the hearing will go forward as scheduled next Friday.

"At the time of Professor Liu's twice-rescheduled hearing, committee members will have had more than seven weeks to review the nominee's record, and two weeks to review the materials submitted to the committee on April 5," he wrote. "While I am disappointed that Professor Liu did not earlier provide the materials in the supplement sent to the committee on April 5, the materials included there hardly disqualify him from serious consideration by this committee."

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Republicans disagree. They called the omission unprecedented and a possible attempt to "hide his most controversial work," and said the nomination was in "jeopardy" in light of the problem.

"At best, this nominee's extraordinary disregard for the committee's constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the committee," the Republicans wrote in the letter to Leahy Tuesday. "Professor Liu's unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying and has placed his nomination in jeopardy."

The letter said Liu only provided the extra material after committee staff had found a number of omissions in the packet he gave up front.

Liu, in his letter to Leahy on Monday providing the additional material, offered a "sincere and personal apology" to the entire committee, but said nothing was left out intentionally.