Liberal legal activists came away from last summer's confirmation hearings on Sonia Sotomayor with an empty feeling. It's not so much that they had a beef with Sotomayor, whom they supported. But her pragmatic discourses on judging and her vague remarks on constitutional interpretation were far from the soaring progressive vision of the Constitution that they had waited for years to hear from a Democratic nominee.

The activists are likely to get the debate they were looking for soon enough. President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has energized the left and outraged the right. His hearing and the battle over his nomination could tell much about the Obama administration's willingness to appoint controversial nominees to the bench, including the Supreme Court.

Ilya Shapiro, a legal analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute said, "In Goodwin Liu’s world, the Constitution requires redistribution of economic resources pretty much on a Marxist basis, to those according to their need from those according to their ability.  He thinks that because there’s a social consensus he believes people should have things like food and health care, as a matter of policy.”

Indeed, in 2006, Liu argued that the 14th Amendment should be interpreted to include “basic employment supports such as expanded health insurance, child care, transportation subsidies, job training, and a robust earned income tax credit.”

Lui’s record also includes explicit support for extending these rights to illegal aliens. In his view, the United States government is obligated to provide child care and health insurance to everyone within our borders.

Lui once wrote: “We should not use the concept of citizenship to deny education to noncitizen children, not least because the Equal Protection Clause extends to ‘persons.’” 

This assessment of the 14th Amendment, and the Equal Protection clause, is one of the most severe examples of liberal constitutional interpretation in recent memory, says Shapiro. But Liu’s appointment as Associate Dean and Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley School of Law makes him uniquely suited to disseminate those views from an authoritative platform.

Liu is staunchly against a traditional view of marriage and has ruled in favor of lawsuits protesting the mention of “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Before becoming a judge and academic, Liu practiced law for only two years.

There are enough Democratic Senators to make Liu’s confirmation, slated for next month, a likely prospect. But momentum has not yet build around this nominee. Given his record, he's probably wise to avoid the spotlight.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.