WASHINGTON - President Obama re-nominated Judge Edward M. Chen and Professor Goodwin H. Liu to the federal bench and leaders from the Asian Pacific American community called for their swift confirmation.
The nominees' names were returned to President Obama last month, per Senate rules. Both are expected to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee by the end of the month. Both nominees received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association.
"Professor Liu and Judge Chen are both eminently qualified to serve on the federal judiciary and should be voted on as quickly as possible," said Joseph J. Centeno, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). "Our courts are overburdened and they need qualified jurists to fill seats that have been vacant for years in some cases."
Both nominees have experienced needless delays in the confirmation process. Originally nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Aug. 6, 2009, Judge Chen has waited longer than any other judicial nominee for a confirmation vote. Professor Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Feb. 24.
"Judge Chen and Professor Liu would both fill seats that are considered 'judicial emergencies,'" said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC). "There are tangible negative effects on our courts when nominees face needless delays in the confirmation process."
Of 875 federal judgeships, 104 are vacant and 49 are considered "judicial emergencies." The seat Judge Chen awaits confirmation for has been vacant for more than 890 days. Moreover, each judge in the Northern District of California handles more than 600 cases per year-more than 1.5 times the national average. In the 9th Circuit, where Professor Liu has been nominated, parties wait longer than any other circuit court for a final ruling, in part because the court is understaffed. The vacancies that Judge Chen and Professor Liu are seeking to fill are both "judicial emergencies."
"The Senate should vote on the nominations of Judge Chen and Professor Liu as soon as the Senate Judiciary Committee acts," Narasaki said. "Now is the time to act before the Senate breaks for the midterm elections and momentum is lost."
NAPABA and AAJC urge the Asian Pacific American community to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold votes on these nominees before the Senate adjourns Oct. 8.
In conjunction with these extremely important nominations, NAPABA and AAJC have launched a Goodwin Liu public education initiative and web site to engage and educate the Asian Pacific American community on diversity in the judicial system. The initiative will distribute stickers (below) promoting Liu's confirmation and educational materials nationally in an effort to harness the energy of the Asian Pacific American community and its enthusiasm for these extremely well-qualified, diverse nominees.