Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with judicial nominee Goodwin Liu, and Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Daniel Inouye, D-Hi., on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
After Goodwin Liu was confirmed as a member of the California Supreme Court, he looked like he couldn't believe it. He expressed surprise not as his confirmation -- but at its speed.
Liu's nomination to a federal appellate court was held up for more than a year, and a Republican filibuster blocked even a confirmation vote (even though he had the support of the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate).
In California, Liu's confirmation took all of a month.
What's the difference? The confirmation process is not nearly as politicized here. The Commission on Judicial Appointments -- which includes the elected Attorney General and two top judges -- has been set up to handle the work. The questions tend to focus on resume and qualification, rather than hot-button ideological questions.
In this area at least, Washington may have something to learn from California.