In what is becoming a full-on time suck for a few particularly devoted bloggers on the left and right, Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu’s nomination for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is again in the news today. Sen. Patrick Leahy refused to postpone Liu’s confirmation hearing past April 16. Senate Republicans had demanded that Liu be pushed back, after he screwed up and didn’t turn over a raft of speeches and other potpourri that must be painstakingly analyzed by some unlucky staffer in the Judiciary Committee’s minority counsel office.
Beyond sending a firm message to the Republicans, there's another reason why Leahy wouldn’t want to delay Liu’s hearing. Four words: Justice John Paul Stevens. Should Stevens announce his retirement from the Supreme Court in the coming weeks, it will effectively suffocate other committee business, particularly on the nominations front. Liu’s bid for the circuit is already difficult, but fitting him in amid a Supreme Court fight would be a near impossible feat.