FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NAPABA Contact: Tina Matsuoka (202) 775-9555
September 23, 2009
AAJC Contact: Nicole Duran (202) 296-2300, ext. 144
NAPABA AND AAJC Provide Testimony
at Historic Confirmation Hearing of Three
Asian Pacific American Federal Judicial Nominees
Washington, Sept. 23, 2009 — The U.S. Senate took the first step toward confirming an unprecedented number of Asian Pacific Americans to the federal bench today, a move the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) applauded.
In their testimony today, both organizations strongly support the appointments of Edward M. Chen, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; Dolly M. Gee, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Both praised Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and the committee for scheduling the candidates’ hearing promptly and together. They also thanked California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for recommending the three nominees, and expressed appreciation to President Obama for nominating them.
There is a “woeful underrepresentation of Asian Pacific Americans in the federal judiciary,” NAPABA and AAJC told the committee.
Asian Pacific Americans represent less than one percent of the federal judiciary, and no Asian Pacific American sits on a federal appellate court.
Asian Pacific Americans are even underrepresented on California’s courts, despite making up approximately 15 percent of the state’s population. Moreover, although Asian Pacific Americans constitute more than 35 percent of the San Francisco area’s population, an Asian Pacific American has never sat on the federal district court in that area in its entire 150 year history.
“A judiciary that more closely resembles the American citizenry is more likely to engender confidence by that citizenry in the justness of the results reached,” the testimony states. “A judiciary that has diverse perspectives is more likely to ensure that cases are decided fairly, evenly, without predisposition, and with an open mind.”
Chen has been a federal magistrate judge in San Francisco for more than eight years. Nguyen has served as a state court trial judge for more than seven years, and Gee has worked as an arbitrator, mediator and court-appointed “neutral” for more than 15 years.
All three have been active in their respective civic and legal communities, serving in leadership positions on several bar associations and community groups, and receiving numerous awards for their public service.
Additionally, NAPABA and AAJC provided personal narratives for each nominee.
Nguyen immigrated to the United States as a child during the fall of South Vietnam. Both Gee’s and Chen’s parents were immigrants, with Gee’s father serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and Chen’s mother emigrating to the U.S. during the Sino-Japanese War.
“Each nominee brings a unique personal life story that would inspire all Americans,” the testimony stated.
Both organizations are encouraged and “look forward to working with the committee and the administration as many more Asian Pacific Americans are nominated for federal judgeships.”
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 60 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.
The Asian American Justice Center is a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. It works closely with three affiliates – the Asian American Institute in Chicago the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles – and nearly 100 community partners in 47 cities, 25 states and the District of Columbia.