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Click here to download a PDF copy of the press release.


NAPABA Contact: Brian Wang (202) 775-9555

January 7, 2010

AAJC Contact: Nicole Duran (202) 296-2300, ext. 144


WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama said he will re-nominate the Honorable Edward M. Chen to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California when the Senate reconvenes.

Obama first nominated Judge Chen Aug. 7. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved him Oct. 15, thereby putting his nomination before the full Senate. Because his nomination was not acted upon before Congress adjourned for recess, Obama must re-nominate Judge Chen, and others, in accordance with Senate rules.

“Judge Chen has a demonstrated record as a balanced, fair and unbiased jurist through his faithful service as a U.S. magistrate judge for nearly nine years,” said Joseph J. Centeno, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Judge Chen has a strong and well-deserved reputation for integrity and we look forward to his prompt confirmation by the Senate.”

Judge Chen has been a federal magistrate judge for the Northern District of California Since April 2001.He was just reappointed to another eight-year term by the very judges he would join on the District Court. He was nominated by a bipartisan advisory commission, and his confirmation has garnered support from multiple bar associations, law enforcement officials and prosecutors. He also enjoys the strong support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who recommended him to the president.

The American Bar Association bestowed its highest ranking, “unanimously well qualified,” upon him and the Bar Association of San Francisco rated him “exceptionally well qualified,” a distinction reserved for only the most exceptional candidates.

“Judge Chen has strong support from law enforcement,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “In a bipartisan letter from the Coalition of Former Federal Prosecutors in the Northern District of California, the 11 signatories noted that Judge Chen is a jurist of the highest caliber who demonstrates a strong commitment to due process and upholding the rule of law, and that no one is more qualified to serve on the U.S. District Court for Northern California than Judge Chen.”

If confirmed, Judge Chen would become the first Asian Pacific American federal District Court judge in San Francisco, bringing long overdue diversity to the court that first rendered many infamous civil rights decisions affecting Asian Pacific Americans – including United States v. Korematsu and Yick Wo v. Hopkins. Notably, Judge Chen was also part of the original legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu, 40 years after the fact.

Asian Pacific Americans constitute approximately 15 percent of California’s population. Moreover, although Asian Pacific Americans comprise 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.

Centeno and Narasaki thank President Obama and Sen. Feinstein for supporting Judge Chen. He is the second Asian Pacific American she has recommended to the president for the federal judiciary.


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 62 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.


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