LOS ANGELES (November 5, 2015) — This week, Iranian-American Immigration Judge Afsaneh Ashley Tabaddor settled her federal civil rights lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) challenging the DOJ’s discriminatory order requiring her to recuse herself from all cases involving Iranian nationals.
The recusal order was issued because of her civic involvement with the Iranian-American community which the DOJ unilaterally determined created an “appearance of bias.”
“The settlement vindicates Judge Tabaddor’s brave demand for justice, both for herself and other judicial officers,” says Laboni Hoq, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice – LA. “We strongly support the appointment of judicial officers who are civically engaged in their communities, which is essential to being an effective arbiter of justice in our increasingly diverse society.”
Asian American Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA), together with its affiliates and 12 ethnic bar associations filed an amicus brief in support of Judge Tabaddor’s case. The amicus brief argued that the recusal order both violated Judge Tabaddor’s constitutionally-protected free speech and association rights, as well as discriminated against her based on her national origin.
The brief also described how the recusal order had a dangerous chilling effect on both prospective judges as well as sitting judges, who would be discouraged from engaging in civic activities within their ethnic communities for fear of being subject to a similar recusal order. The law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phillips served as counsel for amici.
The bar associations and organizations who joined the amicus brief include:
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Arab American Lawyers Association of Southern California
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles
Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance
Iranian American Bar Association
Korean American Bar Association of Southern California
Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Philippine American Bar Association
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
South Asian Bar Association of Southern California
Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association
Thai American Bar Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, Advancing Justice – LA seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AANHPI community while also building a strong AANHPI voice for civil rights and social justice.