California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu speaks at the Union


Patrick Li

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu speaks with students on Tuesday at the Illini Union about his career in law.

By Karen Liu, Staff Writer

Justice Goodwin Liu spoke to Professor Suja Thomas from the College of Law about the rule of law at the Illini Union on Tuesday night.

Hosted by Asian American Law Students Association, American Constitution Society and the Asian American Cultural Center, the conversation surrounded Liu’s career as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of California. He talked about his background, career path and memorable cases from his time as a lawyer.

Liu was a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley before he became a member of the court. Former President Obama nominated Liu to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2010.

He withdrew his name from consideration in 2011 and was sworn into the California Supreme Court later that year. “The position found me. I did not find the position,” Liu said during the discussion. “Life is very unplanned.”

Liu also discussed issues related to race, diversity and the underrepresented minority groups in the legal system.

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    He said that the greater diversity in the legal profession is very positive, and it has increased significantly over the last generation.

    “I hope it will continue,” Liu said. “And it will be incumbent on students today to continue to break down barriers and to challenge themselves to go into areas that may not be traditionally within their views.”

    Liu said he hopes that through this conversation, students can learn something about how the rules of law function in a diverse society under the constitution of democracy in the United States.

    He said that the rule of law is an enduring value that’s not just about what’s happening in today’s society. Instead, it is an important characteristic in the United States throughout history.

    “The fact that we have a society is respectful and inherent to the rule of law,” he said. “It’s something that didn’t happen overnight, it happened to the gradual accretions and traditions and norms over the entire course of the nation’s history.”

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