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Delicious History: The Coming Asian Majority on State's Highest Court

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The Coming Asian Majority on State's Highest Court

AP

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)

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The men who created California's constitution so loathed Asian immigrants that they enshrined anti-Asian discrimination in the state's governing documents.

Now the state constitution may soon be interpreted by a California Supreme Court that is majority Asian.

That's the wonderful, delicious and historical irony behind Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement that he'll appoint UC Berkeley legal scholar Goodwin Liu to the state's highest court. 

You'll probably hear many things about this appointment, which is already controversial.

The court has no Latino or black judges.

Liu has been criticized as a judicial radical by Republicans, who filibustered an attempt by President Obama to put Liu on a federal appellate court.

But the history is breathtaking.

Anti-Asian bias is part of the DNA of California.

Our last constitutional convention, in 1879, produced an entire article of the constitution devoted to discrimination against the Chinese. The early 20th century Progressives such as Gov. Hiram Johnson -- who are celebrated today for all variety of reformers -- were racists who championed laws that prevented Asian immigrants from owning land.

I suspect that these long departed early leaders of California, if they've heard the news, are spinning in their graves.

Good.

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