May 18, 2009 Via Fax and Regular Mail President

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May 18, 2009 Via Fax and Regular Mail President Powered By Docstoc
					                                        May 18, 2009


                                        Via Fax and Regular Mail


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American
Justice Center (AAJC) are writing you regarding the recently announced vacancy in the
Supreme Court of the United States, created by the resignation of Justice David Souter. As
the two leading Asian Pacific American organizations working on judicial appointments, we
urge the careful consideration of highly qualified Asian Pacific American candidates for the
opening and offer our advice and counsel in the White House process to nominate the next
justice.

Since Justice Souter’s resignation, you have articulated on several occasions your thoughts
on the qualities you are looking for in a U.S. Supreme Court justice. We share your belief
that s/he should be someone who is committed to the rule of law, honors our constitutional
traditions, respects the integrity of the judicial process and understands the proper role of
judges. There are a number of very qualified Asian Pacific American candidates who meet
these criteria and who also empathize with the particular concerns of minority and other
vulnerable communities.

There are several ways to identify the availability of qualified Asian Pacific Americans ready
to serve as excellent U.S. Supreme Court justices. Rather than attempt to provide an
exhaustive list of names, we are providing three examples of individuals who reflect a range
of special qualities and experiences that they would bring to The Court. To be sure, however,
there are others who are well qualified, including some who have chosen not to pursue an
appointment at this time or who do not wish public mention.

Harold H. Koh, the current State Department Legal Adviser nominee, has been dean at Yale
Law School since 2004. A Harvard Law School graduate, his professional resume includes
serving as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the Supreme Court of
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May 18, 2009
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the United States and for Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served his country as Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; and as a lawyer with the Department of Justice. He
taught law at Yale Law School for many years. He has been awarded eleven honorary
doctorates and three law school medals and has received more than twenty five awards for
his human rights work. He is the author of eight books and is the recipient of the 2005 Louis
B. Sohn Award from the American Bar Association International Law Section and the 2003
Wolfgang Friedmann Award from Columbia Law School for his lifetime achievements in
International Law. The respect Dean Koh has earned in the legal community is reflected in
part by the fact that as soon as Justice Souter’s resignation was announced, Dean Koh was
one of the first five or six names speculated as being on the short list of highly qualified
candidates for nomination.

Susan Oki Mollway has served as a federal district court judge since 1998. With a career
notable for its distinctions and honors, Judge Mollway is the first Asian American woman
appointed to the federal bench in the history of the U.S. She has presided over several high
profile cases. Judge Mollway attended Harvard Law School and served the Harvard Civil
Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review as its book review editor in 1979 and Editor-in-Chief in
1980. She graduated cum laude in 1981 and became a partner at Cades Schutte LLP (then
known as Cades Schutte Fleming and Wright) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Judge Mollway has
served on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Women Lawyers, the Hawaii Justice
Foundation, the Hawaii American Civil Liberties Union, and the Hawaii Women’s Legal
Foundation. Judge Mollway has been acknowledged as a pioneer by many groups with the
Hawaii Women’s Lawyers Association recognizing her as the Outstanding Woman Lawyer
of the Year in 1987.

Frank H. Wu is a law professor and served as the dean of Wayne State College of Law from
2004 to 2008, where he was one of only three Asian American law school deans in the
country. Before becoming law dean at Wayne State, Professor Wu taught at Howard
University Law School for nearly a decade, where he taught civil procedure, immigration
law, the federal courts, and evidence. Professor Wu also directed Howard’s Clinical Law
Center and was the first Asian Pacific American to serve on the faculty. He also has taught at
the law schools of Columbia University, University of Michigan, and Stanford University.
He served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Frank J. Battisti and was an associate
at the law firm of Morrison and Foerster, where he had a civil litigation practice. He is the
renowned author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which argues for a
new paradigm of civil rights that includes people of all backgrounds rather than relying on a
black/white paradigm and that addresses forms of racial discrimination that are not obvious
but subtle. The book is widely used in Asian American Studies classes on college campuses.
Professor Wu is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University and a member
of the board of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights Education Fund. He is a
University of Michigan Law School graduate.

It is noteworthy that none of our three examples serve on the federal appellate court. While
we respect that federal appellate experience is one of the more traditional paths to
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May 18, 2009
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serving on The Court, we believe that lawyers who have a less traditional résumé are no less
qualified and can bring a rich diversity to The Court. All three of these candidates possess
brilliant intellectual abilities and a willingness to consider all points of view.

Sadly, of the approximately 175 federal appellate court judges currently serving in the United
States, none are Asian Pacific Americans. In a country where approximately 5% of the
population is Asian American or Pacific Islander, this statistic is troubling as there are many
Asian Pacific American lawyers who are highly qualified to serve on our federal appellate
courts. Working with your administration to address this situation immediately is one of our
highest priorities. Our successful joint efforts would help to increase the diversity of the
federal appellate bench and provide highly qualified Asian Pacific Americans greater access
to the traditional path for future Supreme Court appointments.

We look forward to assisting in any way we can with the selection and confirmation process
of the next U.S. Supreme Court justice whose decisions will help to define the rights and
opportunities of all Americans.


                                       Sincerely yours,



                                       Andrew T. Hahn, Sr.
                                       President
                                       The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association




                                       Karen K. Narasaki
                                       President and Executive Director
                                       The Asian American Justice Center


cc:    The Vice President
       Mr. Gregory Craig, Counsel to the President
       Ms. Tina Tchen, Director of Public Engagement
       The Honorable Mike Honda, Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus