Political observers anxiously awaiting President Obama's pick to replace Justice John Paul Stevens may have gotten a preview of a future Supreme Court confirmation battle on Friday. Republicans are turning a skeptical eye toward Goodwin Liu, 39, a nominee for the 9th Circuit Appeals Court who some on the right worry is being groomed for a Supreme Court seat one day. Liu, a law professor at UC Berkeley, is considered to be one of the most liberal of Obama's nominees and received some tough questions from Republicans at a Senate hearing yesterday. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) derided him as "the very vanguard of what I would call an intellectual judicial activist." Liu, in turn, pledged his fealty to the law. "I would approach every case with an open mind," he told the panel. "The role of a judge is to faithfully follow the law as it is written."