WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for the Honorable Leslie E. Kobayashi, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, and for Edmond E. Chang, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. President Obama nominated Judge Kobayashi and Mr. Chang to serve as federal judges on April 21, 2010.
“Both Judge Kobayashi and Mr. Chang are well qualified and will bring a wealth of experiences to the federal bench,” said Joseph J. Centeno, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Both of these individuals will serve their country admirably as federal judges.”
Judge Kobayashi has served as a U.S. magistrate judge in Hawaii since 1999. Before that she was a partner and commercial litigator in Hawaii. Judge Kobayashi began her career as a deputy prosecution attorney with the city and county of Honolulu. Mr. Chang has served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for 11 years, including five years as the chief of the Appeals Division. Mr. Chang has also taught civil rights litigation as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University for the last four years.
Thursday’s hearing is the first step toward confirming Judge Kobayashi and Mr. Chang. Next, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its own hearing. If they win committee approval, their nominations will come to the Senate floor for confirmation.
“Asian Americans continue to be vastly under-represented on the federal bench,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “Confirming Judge Kobayashi and Mr. Chang will help eliminate this under-representation and enrich our judicial system.”
Although Asian Pacific Americans make up more than 60 percent of Hawaii’s population, there has never been more than one APA federal district court judge serving there at a time. Judge Kobayashi would be the second APA woman confirmed as an Article III judge in the District of Hawaii and only the fifth female APA Article III judge ever. Mr. Chang, if confirmed, would be the first APA Article III judge in any of the courts encompassed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and only the second outside the East and West Coasts.
AAJC and NAPABA thank the president for nominating Judge Kobayashi and Mr. Chang and Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois for supporting them.