WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 14, 2012) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated Derrick Kahala Watson to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.
If confirmed, Watson will be the only person of Native Hawaiian descent serving as an Article III judge, and only the fourth to serve in United States history. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair: “I commend President Obama for his continued commitment to promoting diversity in our federal judiciary through his nomination of Derick Kahala Watson. Mr. Watson is a highly qualified nominee with the talent, intellect, and experience to serve the people of Hawaii, and if confirmed, he will be the only Native Hawaiian serving as an Article III judge. I applaud Senator Inouye and Senator Akaka for recommending Mr. Watson, and urge the Senate to move forward with his confirmation.”
Congresswoman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “I applaud President Obama’s nomination of Derrick Kahala Watson to the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. This nomination exemplifies the Obama Administration’s commitment to a highly qualified bench, as well as the President’s commitment to diversity that truly reflects America. As Chair Emeritus, I thank President Obama for his leadership with this nomination. If confirmed, Watson will be the only person of native Hawaiian descent serving as an Article III judge, and the fourth in American history. Watson brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from his robust career in the legal field, especially in his background with civil justice and rights. I now urge the Senate to act swiftly in confirming Watson’s nomination to ensure a more diverse representation in all branches of government.
Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are markedly absent from the federal judiciary. No Native Hawaiians currently serve as Article III judges, and no Native Americans serve on the federal bench. Watson, who is currently the Chief of the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii, would break that trend. His prior experiences include private practice in San Francisco and several years in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. Watson also served in the United States Army Reserve and was a Captain in the JAG Corps from 1998-2006. After attending the Kamehameha Schools, he went on to Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.