Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Senate Votes to Confirm Edward Chen as Judge for Northern District
By MARK B. HAEFELE, Staff Writer
Federal Magistrate Judge Edward M. Chen of the Northern District of California yesterday was confirmed as a district judge of that same court.
The U.S. Senate voted 56-42 in favor of confirming Chen, who is the first Asian Pacific American to serve as an Article III judge in San Francisco.
In 2001, he also became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a U.S. magistrate judge in the same district in its 150-year history.
Born in Oakland in 1953, Chen earned his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in 1975 and a law degree four years later. After graduating law school, he served as clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles Renfrew of the Northern District of California and for Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James R. Browning.
In 1982, Chen became an associate with the San Francisco firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. Three years later, he became a staff attorney specializing in language issues for the American Civil Liberties Union, a position that reportedly became a point of contention among Senate Republicans opposed to his confirmation.
After being nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama for the Northern District seat vacated by the retiring Martin Jenkins, and despite the strong support of U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Senate returned the nomination to Obama three times before yesterday’s confirmation.
Chen is now awaiting his judicial commission.
Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, praised Chen as “a tremendous leader within the Asian Pacific America community and a great example for all Americans.”
Paul O. Hirose, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association remarked that Chen “has been a hero to many of us, and we are so proud of him today.”
According to a release from the association, Obama has nominated more Asian Pacific American federal judges than any other president: of the 14 currently active Asian Pacific American Article III judges, seven were nominated by Obama.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company