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APAP Unsung Heroes 2010 - NAPABA and AAJC for Outstanding Work on Judicial Nominations

Co-written by Curtis Chin and Erin Pangilinan, APAP Board Members

While there has been some disappointment on the left over the pace of change pushed by the Obama Administration, one area in which they have undoubtedly made an impact is the number of Asian Americans serving in the federal judiciary.

There has never been an Asian American on the Supreme Court, and the only active Asian American appellate judge in the country is Judge Denny Chin, who was confirmed in April 2010 to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Currently there are only 13 active Asian American Article III judges serving in our federal courts out of approximately 875 total judgeships. Article III judges have lifetime appointments.

Leading this efforts to diversify the representation in the judiciary, has been the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC). They have been working with the Administration to identify qualified candidates and then sheperding them through the process as well as spearheaded the campaign at CONFIRMNOW.ORG for Judge Edwin Chen and Professor Goodwin Liu. Judge Chen was nominated for the Northern District of California and Goodwin Liu for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit.

With the Republicans continuing to block the nominations of such worthy candidates as Edwin Chen and Goodwin Liu, we remain optimistic as Obama has renominated both Chen and Liu along with 40 other candidates to the federal bench.

We also wanted to recognize John Yang's leadership on this issue. John served as 2003-2004 President of NAPABA, and continues to serve as Co-Chair of NAPABA’s Judiciary Committee. From 2005 to 2008, John was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Asian American Justice Center, the leading national Asian Pacific American civil and human rights organization.

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