Senate Republicans handed President Barack Obama his first major nomination defeat Thursday, by blocking the appointment of liberal law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Liu is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Conservatives argued that he's a "judicial activist" who would write left-wing ideas into the law during his lifetime federal appointment. Liu supports same-sex marriage and the use of international law to decide U.S. cases.
Republicans also pointed out he's never served as a judge or a trial lawyer, and has been involved with liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.
A number of Democrats and even a few Republicans supported Liu. The White House also said he has "mainstream views."
In a radio interview after President Obama's election, Liu said liberals, "Have the opportunity to actually get our ideas and the progressive vision of the Constitution and of law and policy into practice."
Liu previously criticized conservative Justice Samuel Alito, saying his vision was an America "where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy. Where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, even after no sign of resistance. Where the FBI may install a camera where you sleep. Where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man, absent analysis showing discrimination."
The law professor later took those comments back during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He described his language as "unduly harsh," and added, "If I had it to do over again I would have deleted it."
Some supporters saw Liu as a fast-track nominee to the Supreme Court.