What Senators Need To Know

Nominated August 6, 2009; Renominated January 20, 2010; September 13, 2010; January 5, 2011

Magistrate Judge Edward M. Chen is President Obama’s nominee to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Despite broad bipartisan support from law enforcement, the judiciary, and the legal community, Judge Chen has waited longer than any other presidential judicial nominee —more than 500 days— for a confirmation vote.

Judge Chen’s seat needs to be filled immediately

  • Judge Chen was first nominated on August 6, 2009—nearly one and a half years ago—and he is now the longest waiting judicial nominee of the Obama Administration.
  • The seat that Judge Chen has been nominated to has been categorized as a “judicial emergency”—it has been vacant since April 3, 2008, more than 1000 days.
  • Each judge in the Northern District of California has a weighted average of over 600 cases per judge, one of the highest in the nation.

Judge Chen is eminently qualified

  • He has served as a federal magistrate judge for nine years, and has been rated as unanimously well qualified by the ABA—the highest rating possible – for appointment as district court judge.
  • Judge Chen has a strong academic background: graduated in the top 10% of his undergraduate and law school classes at the University of California, Berkeley; clerked for two federal judges at the trial and appellate courts.
  • In 2009, he was reappointed to a second term after an extensive review of his judicial record.
  • Prior to the bench, Judge Chen had over 20 years of litigation experience.

Judge Chen has wide support from the legal community

  • A bipartisan advisory committee selected and recommended Judge Chen to Senator Feinstein as a nominee to the federal district court prior to his nomination by President Obama.
  • Judge Chen has earned broad bipartisan support from law enforcement, the judiciary, corporate attorneys, as well as the litigation bar who all praise Chen for his objectivity, dispassion, and impartiality as a magistrate judge. See letters at http://tinyurl.com/JudgeChen

Opponents are using Judge Chen’s background working on behalf of the public interest against him

  • Despite Judge Chen’s issuance of hundreds of rulings, Senate Republicans have been unable to find fault with any of his decisions from the bench.
  • Judge Chen’s critics have instead focused on his background as an ACLU lawyer a decade ago. Citing an “ACLU chromosome” among Obama nominees, Senator Sessions has conceded Judge Chen has done a good job as a magistrate judge and that he voted against Chen “reluctantly.”
  • If Chen’s nomination should fail, it will set a terrible precedent against nominees with a public interest law background from serving in the federal judiciary.

Judge Chen’s story is the story of the American Dream

  • Judge Chen’s story is a testament to his character. His parents immigrated to the United States from China and raised their family in racially diverse Oakland, California where he attended public schools. Judge Chen’s father passed away when he was very young, leaving his mother to raise her sons and run the family business.
  • He would be the first Asian Pacific American Article III judge in San Francisco.
  • Judge Chen was on the legal team that successfully represented Fred Korematsu in a case overturning his World War II conviction for failure to comply with the Japanese internment order. It would be extremely fitting were Chen to now sit on the district court bench in San Francisco.

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