WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2010) – Last week the U.S. Senate took the first step toward confirming the Honorable Lucy H. Koh to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Koh was nominated on January 20, 2010 and is the fifth Asian Pacific American nominated to the federal bench by President Obama.
“Judge Koh is a uniquely qualified nominee with a wealth of experience as a jurist,” said Joseph J. Centeno, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Her confirmation will be historic for the Asian Pacific American community to which she has been so committed throughout her career. We recognized Judge Koh’s commitment last year by awarding her the NAPABA Trailblazer Award, which is our highest honor.”
Judge Koh was appointed to the Santa Clara County Superior Court in January 2008 by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prior, she was an intellectual property and commercial litigator inSilicon Valley for more than eight years. She began her legal career in the public sector, serving as an assistant U. S. attorney in Los Angeles in the major frauds section and in several positions at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. If confirmed, she will be the first female Korean American Article III judge.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will have its first opportunity to vote on Judge Koh’s nomination at the next scheduled executive business meeting. If voted out of the committee, Koh will be placed on the Senate Executive Calendar for a final confirmation floor vote.
“We have no doubt the Judiciary Committee will recognize that Judge Koh is a strong and qualified nominee,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American JusticeCenter. “Her speedy confirmation will be an important step in addressing the appalling absence of Asian American Article III judges, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
There has never been an Asian Pacific American Article III judge in the 160 year history of the Northern District of California (San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley). This fact is especially significant given that some of the most infamous cases affecting Asian Pacific Americans – including United States v. Korematsu, Yick Wo v. Hopkins, and Lau v. Nichols – were first decided by the federal district court in the Bay Area.
Today, approximately one-third of the population in the Bay Area is Asian Pacific American. Judge Koh’s nomination received strong support from law enforcement and prominent individuals including Gov. Schwarzenegger, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Viet Dinh, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy to then-attorney general John Ashcroft, Santa Clara sheriff Laurie Smith, Santa Clara district attorney Dolores Carr, and Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler.
Centeno and Narasaki thank President Obama and California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein for nominating Judge Koh.
The White House Office of the Press Secretary released statements made by President Barack Obama on the Senate confirmations of Koh and all 27 of his high-level nominees.
“At the beginning of the week, a staggering 63 nominees had been stalled in the Senate because one or more senators placed a hold on their nomination,” said Obama. “In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee’s qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process.”
Obama said Americans were frustrated by the many holds that were motivated by a desire to leverage state projects or just to frustrate the process. He said the threat to exercise his authority to fill critically-needed positions in the federal government temporarily through the use of recess appointments is a rare but would be exercised if necessary.
“I am gratified that Republican senators have responded by releasing many of these holds and allowing 29 nominees to receive a vote in the Senate,” Obama added. “While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess.
“If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future.”