We have a special place in our hearts for Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.). Last year, we dressed up as Judge Chin for Halloween (see right). Alas, even though Judge Chin has presided over some major matters — such as the Bernie Madoff case, in which he gave the Ponzi schemer 150 years, and the Google Books settlement talks — we were still mistaken for Judge Lance Ito by several people.
The Asian-American community is thrilled. From one Asian ATL reader: “He was confirmed! Amazing and historic!”
But there have been Asian-American federal judges before. And there may be again in the not-too-distant future, depending on what happens to the controversial nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu.
What is history-making about Judge Chin’s elevation?
As noted by the BLT, Chin will be the only active Asian-American judge on a federal appeals court. He’s not the first, but the earlier Asian circuit judges have taken senior status, like Judge A. Wallace Tashima (9th Cir.), or have passed away, like Judge Herbert Choy (9th Cir.).
Our enthusiastic tipster also identified Judge Chin as the only Asian-American federal judge outside of the Ninth Circuit, but this is not correct. Check out this listing of Asian Pacific American federal judges. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of them, including Judge Tashima (when we clerked on the Ninth Circuit); Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway and Judge Leslie Kobayashi, of the District of Hawaii (thank you for the wonderful hospitality at your judicial conference!); and Judges Kiyo Matsumoto and Marilyn Go, of the Eastern District of New York (it was a pleasure meeting and dining with you at the AABANY banquet this year).
Now that he’s on the Second Circuit, could Judge Chin’s star rise higher in the federal judicial firmament? A fellow Article III groupie recently wondered: Why isn’t he talked about more often as a possible Supreme Court nominee?
Judge Chin would be a “first,” as the first Asian-American SCOTUS justice. He’s a well-regarded, highly experienced trial judge — on the S.D.N.Y. since 1994. He just won unanimous confirmation to a major federal appeals court. And he’s only 56 (born 1954).
In other confirmation news, Judge Thomas Vanaskie (M.D. Pa.) was elevated to the Third Circuit earlier this week, by a vote of 77-20, and Loretta Lynch was confirmed today as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, by a unanimous vote. Lynch’s confirmation should not come as a huge surprise, since she’s had the same job before — she previously served as U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn from 1999 to 2001.
(Random aside: We once saw Loretta Lynch cutting the rug at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and we can attest to her skills as a dancer. We aren’t surprised that she was able to waltz her way to Senate confirmation.)
Lynch wasn’t the only U.S. Attorney to win confirmation today. For more names — U.S. Attorneys were also confirmed for the Southern District of Florida, South Carolina, Northern District of Indiana, and Western District of North Carolina — see Main Justice.
Congratulations to Judges Chin and Vanaskie, and to the five new U.S. Attorneys!
Judge Who Sentenced Madoff Confirmed to 2nd Circuit [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]\
Madoff Judge to 2nd Circuit [WSJ Law Blog]
Senate Confirms Five U.S Attorneys [Main Justice]
Earlier: Open Thread: Happy Halloween!