Goodwin Liu

The Honorable S. William Green Visiting Professor of Public Law

Fall 2017

Griswold 211

617-496-5417

Assistant: Patricia Fazzone / 617-496-2075

Biography

Justice Goodwin Liu is an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. He was confirmed to office by a unanimous vote of the California Commission on Judicial Appointments on August 31, 2011, following his appointment by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on July 26, 2011. The Governor administered the oath of office to Justice Liu in a public ceremony in Sacramento, California on September 1, 2011. Before joining the court, Justice Liu was Professor of Law and former Associate Dean at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Justice Liu grew up in Sacramento, where he attended public schools. He went to Stanford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1991. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree in philosophy and physiology. Upon returning to the United States, he went to Washington D.C. to help launch the AmeriCorps national service program and worked for two years as a senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service.

Justice Liu graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, becoming the first in his family to earn a law degree. He clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, where he developed and coordinated K-12 education policy. He went on to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the October 2000 Term. In 2001, he joined the appellate litigation practice of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C.

Justice Liu is a prolific and influential scholar on constitutional law and education policy. His 2006 article, “Education, Equality, and National Citizenship,” won the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law, conferred by the Education Law Association. Justice Liu is also a popular and acclaimed teacher. In 2009, he received UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s most prestigious honor for individual excellence in teaching. The Boalt Hall Class of 2009 selected him as the faculty commencement speaker.

Justice Liu serves on the California Access to Justice Commission, the governing board of the American Law Institute, the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences, and the James Irvine Foundation. He has previously served on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Constitution Society, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Public Welfare Foundation.

Goodwin Liu, Pamela S. Karlan & Christopher H. Schroeder, Keeping Faith with the Constitution (Oxford Univ. Press 2010).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
Type: Book
Abstract
Chief Justice John Marshall argued that a constitution "requires that only its great outlines should be marked [and] its important objects designated." Ours is "intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs." In recent years, Marshall's great truths have been challenged by proponents of originalism and strict construction. Such legal thinkers as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argue that the Constitution must be construed and applied as it was when the Framers wrote it. In Keeping Faith with the Constitution, three legal authorities make the case for Marshall's vision. They describe their approach as "constitutional fidelity"--not to how the Framers would have applied the Constitution, but to the text and principles of the Constitution itself. The original understanding of the text is one source of interpretation, but not the only one; to preserve the meaning and authority of the document, to keep it vital, applications of the Constitution must be shaped by precedent, historical experience, practical consequence, and societal change. The authors range across the history of constitutional interpretation to show how this approach has been the source of our greatest advances, from Brown v. Board of Education to the New Deal, from the Miranda decision to the expansion of women's rights. They delve into the complexities of voting rights, the malapportionment of legislative districts, speech freedoms, civil liberties and the War on Terror, and the evolution of checks and balances. The Constitution's framers could never have imagined DNA, global warming, or even women's equality. Yet these and many more realities shape our lives and outlook. Our Constitution will remain vital into our changing future, the authors write, if judges remain true to this rich tradition of adaptation and fidelity.
Goodwin Liu, Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights, 61 Stan. L. Rev. 203 (2008).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Social Welfare Law
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Judges & Jurisprudence
Type: Article
Abstract
A generation ago, Harvard law professor Frank Michelman advanced an influential and provocative vein of scholarship theorizing the content and justiciability of constitutional welfare rights. Michelman's writings, which endure as the most insightful and imaginative work in this area, sought to anchor the Supreme Court's welfare rights jurisprudence in a comprehensive theory of distributive justice, in particular John Rawls's theory of justice as fairness. In this Article, I reappraise Michelman's seminal work and argue that his effort to ground the adjudication of welfare rights in a comprehensive moral theory ultimately confronts intractable problems of democratic legitimacy. 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. Informed by the central themes of Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice, I argue that judicial recognition of welfare rights is best conceived as an act of interpreting the shared understandings of particular welfare goods as they are manifested in our institutions, laws, and evolving social practices. On this account, the existence of a welfare right depends on democratic instantiation in the first instance, typically in the form of a legislated program, with the judiciary generally limited to an interstitial role. Further, because the shared understandings of a given society are ultimately subject to democratic revision, courts cannot fix the existence or contours of a welfare right for all time. So conceived, justiciable welfare rights reflect the contingent character of our society's collective judgments rather than the tidy logic of a comprehensive moral theory. In developing my thesis, I consider two objections: first, that the judicial role I propose is inherently conservative, and second, that it carries an intolerable risk that judges, in the name of interpreting society's values, will impose their own values on society. Using various Supreme Court opinions as examples, I show that both dangers can be avoided when courts employ constitutional doctrine in a dialogic process with the legislature to ensure that the scope of welfare provision democratically reflects our social understandings.
Goodwin Liu, Education, Equality, and National Citizenship, 116 Yale L.J. 330 (2006).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Fourteenth Amendment
,
Constitutional History
,
Education Law
Type: Article
Abstract
For disadvantaged children in substandard schools, the recent success of educational adequacy lawsuits in state courts is a welcome development. But the potential of this legal strategy to advance a national goal of equal educational opportunity is limited by a sobering and largely neglected fact: the most significant component of educational inequality across the nation is not within states but between states. Despite the persistence of this inequality and its disparate impact on poor and minority students, the problem draws little policy attention and has evaded our constitutional radar. This Article argues that the Fourteenth Amendment authorizes and obligates Congress to ensure a meaningful floor of educational opportunity throughout the nation. The argument focuses on the Amendment's opening words, the guarantee of national citizenship. This guarantee does more than designate a legal status. Together with Section 5, it obligates the national government to secure the full membership, effective participation, and equal dignity of all citizens in the national community. Through a novel historical account of major proposals for federal education aid between 1870 and 1890, I show that constitutional interpreters outside of the courts understood the Citizenship Clause to be a font of substantive guarantees that Congress has the power and duty to enforce. This history of legislative constitutionalism provides a robust instantiation of the social citizenship tradition in our constitutional heritage. It also leaves a rich legacy that informs the contemporary unmet duty of Congress to ensure educational adequacy for equal citizenship.
Goodwin Liu, History Will Be Heard: An Appraisal of the Seattle/Louisville Decision, 2 Harv. L. & Pol'y Rev. 53 (2008).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Family Law
,
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Discrimination
,
Civil Rights
,
Education Law
Type: Article

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Griswold 211

617-496-5417

Assistant: Patricia Fazzone / 617-496-2075