WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2011) – The United States Senate on Tuesday voted 56-42 to confirm Judge Edward M. Chen to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“This is a day of true celebration as we congratulate Judge Chen on his long-awaited confirmation vote,” said Paul O. Hirose, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “He has been an exemplary federal magistrate judge, and we know that he will be an equally excellent federal district court judge. Judge Chen has been an active member of the Asian Pacific American community for a long time and a hero to many of us, and we are so proud of him today.”
With Senate confirmation of the nomination of Judge Chen, President Obama has confirmed more Asian Pacific American federal judges than any other President in history. There are now 14 active Asian Pacific American Article III judges in the nation, 7 of whom were nominated by President Obama.
“Judge Chen has been a tremendous leader within the Asian Pacific American community and a great example to all Americans. We could not be happier for Judge Chen, or prouder of his achievement,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “The Asian Pacific American community applauds the President’s continued commitment to diversity and thanks all those Senators who agreed to end debate on his nomination and give Judge Chen the vote that he deserves.”
Judge Chen is the first Asian Pacific American to serve as an Article III judge in San Francisco. He has served as a U.S. magistrate judge for the Northern District of California since 2001, where he was the first-ever Asian Pacific American federal judge in the 150-year history of that court.
Prior to the bench, Judge Chen had over 20 years of litigation experience, including serving on the legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu in a coram nobis case. Judge Chen is the recipient of numerous awards, including “Judge of the Year” from the Barristers Club of San Francisco in 2007, California Law Review’s “Alumnus of the Year” in 2002, and NAPABA’s highest honor, its Trailblazer Award, in 2001.
NAPABA and AAJC have supported Judge Chen and applauded his nomination, along with Senate Majority Leader Reid for bringing the nomination for a vote, and to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her support. California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy were also credited with support of the nomination, as well as Senate Republican Leadership for agreeing to the expedited time agreement before Judge Chen’s roll call vote.
“OCA and the entire Asian Pacific American community can finally celebrate the confirmation of Judge Chen,” said George C. Wu, Executive Director of the Organization of Chinese Americans. “Through his leadership and commitment to the community, Judge Chen is an enormous source of pride for OCA chapters in the Bay Area and throughout the country.”
Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, welcomed the news for an overworked federal bench that has waited almost two years for Judge Edward Chen’s confirmation.
“Judge Chen’s experiences – as a magistrate judge and author of more than 300 opinions, a community advocate, a small business owner, and the son of immigrants – combine to make him a well-rounded candidate who will always seek to ensure just results for all litigants who appear before him,” said Henderson.
“What’s troubling is that that it took so long to confirm such a well-qualified nominee to this position, which was designated as a ‘judicial emergency’ by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts,” he added. “With such impeccable qualifications and demonstrated need for his service, there was no legitimate reason that his confirmation to a judiciary-in-crisis should have taken this long.
“There was not even the pretense on the part of Senate Republicans that they were considering Judge Chen’s merits. These politicians are engaging in an unprecedented use of secret holds and filibusters to delay – and ultimately deny – the confirmation of a significant number of highly qualified and uncontroversial judicial nominees. This blanket obstructionism is nothing less than an abuse of the Senate’s constitutional duty to ‘advise and consent’ on a president’s nominees.”