With yesterday’s Senate confirmation of Miranda Du to be a U.S. District Court Judge in the District of Nevada, President Obama has doubled the number of Asian American and Pacific Islander federal judges – in just over three years.
President Obama’s judges and judicial nominees not only have the necessary intellect, fair-mindedness, and integrity for the federal bench, but also resemble the nation they serve. When the President took office, there were only eight AAPI Article III federal judges out of 874, and there hadn’t been an AAPI judge on a U.S. Court of Appeals since 2004. Now, there are 16 AAPI judges on the federal bench and, in 2010, Judge Denny Chin was unanimously confirmed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In all, almost six percent of President Obama’s confirmed judges have been AAPI, compared to just one percent for Presidents Bush and Clinton.
President Obama’s judges have shattered barriers across the country. He has quadrupled the number of AAPI female federal judges in history, including the first women judges of South Asian, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent. He also has nominated Judge Jacqueline Nguyen to be the first ever AAPI woman to serve on a U.S. Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved her nomination in December, and we look forward to her consideration by the full Senate soon.
This is an important milestone for the AAPI community – but there is more to come. In addition to Judge Nguyen, John Lee, the President’s nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is awaiting a confirmation vote by the full Senate. And while we are very proud of all of the “firsts” that the President has nominated and the Senate has confirmed, we’re already looking forward to the “seconds” and “thirds” and beyond.
Christopher Kang is Senior Counsel to the President.