Judiciary Figures

Asian/Pacific Islander American members have been serving on the federal bench for only the past 50 years, the first A/PIA judge began serving in 1971. Since then, most A/PIA judges have been in the 9th Circuit which covers both the state of Hawaii and the state of California. It was not until 2010 with Denny Chin serving in the 2nd Circuit that there were A/PIA judges in any other circuit but the 9th. The progress of representation in the Judicial branch is much more recent than the other branches of the government, and it is still lacking as they comprise a small percentage of both sitting and active judges. As of 2019, there are currently no A/PIA judges serving on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Here we see five judges both present and past who have been pioneers in their positions. 

  • February 11, 2020

    Sri Srinivasan

    was appointed as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Barack Obama. Srinivasan is the first person of South Asian descent to lead a federal circuit court.

  • May 25, 2017

    Amul Thapar

    was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Donald Trump. Thapar is the first U.S. federal judge of South Asian descent and only the second Indian American judge of the U.S. court of appeals.

  • May 14, 2012

    Jacqueline H. Nguyen

    was appointed as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Court by President Barack Obama. Nguyen is the first Vietnamese American woman to serve on the California bench and the first Asian American woman to serve as a federal appellate judge.

  • April 23, 2010

    Denny Chin

    was appointed as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Barack Obama. Chin is the first Asian American appointed as a District Judge outside of the 9th circuit and is currently one of two active appellate judges of Asian American descent.

  • September 30, 1996

    Robert Takasugi

    was appointed as Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California by President Gerald Ford. Takasugi is the first Japanese American to be appointed as a U.S. federal judge.

  • October 3, 1984

    Herbert Y.C. Choy

    was appointed as the Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Richard Nixon. Choy is the first Asian American and Native Hawaiian to serve on the federal bench.

Sources:

Danielle Root, “Asian American Judges in the Federal Judiciary,” Center For American Progress, October 17, 2019, https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2019/10/16123708/JudicialDiversityFactsheet-AsianAm-4-1.pdf.