Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To be a Judge -- a very political process

Most Asian Ams know that judges (federal or state) are NOT supposed to make political contributions and/or be partisan. Therefore, many have deduced that the appointment of judges must be a non-political process. The truth is just the opposite.

Becoming a judge -- a very political process

Here is why.

First, very emotional issues clearly identified with either D or R could eventually be won or lost by the decision of the Supreme Court. Examples are abortion; guns; desegregation/affirmative action/diversity; torture/internment; gay marriage, .., etc. Most of the Supreme Court Justices came up from the Appeals and/or District Courts. Hence, the appointment of every District or Appeals Court judge could be a seed for victory or defeat to R or D.

Just look at the confirmation of Sotomayor, you'll easily deduce that the appointment of federal judges is a partisan issue. Indeed, all judges I personally know are either Rs or Ds, not a single Ind. or Decline.

Secondly, there are these facts. Red is used to indicate where politics comes in.

1) The President normally selects District judges from a short list of 3 submitted by the senior Senator from the President's party in whose state the "District" lies.

2) Those who get on the short list of 3 usually meet both of the following descriptions: a) having done a lot of service for either the senator and/or the party, and have similar legal temperament as that of the President's party or the senator., and b) being legally qualified.

"Check & balance" mechanisms to ensure justice

To assure justice, the American forefathers have installed counter-balancing mechanisms to the political process of appointing judges.

(1) All federal judges, be they District, Circuit or Supreme Court justices, are life-tenured. Hence, once appointed, all judges are free to judge by the dictate of the law and their own conscience, e.g. retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter was appointed by a conservative Pres. Reagan but had voted mostly with the liberals.
(2) In most states, the judges are NOT life-tenured, but the State Constitutions often require that the more important courts have equal numbers of D's and R's.
(3) Wrongful or partisan judgments can be appealed at the state & federal levels.

Will a generic letter to US senators urging attention to qualified Asian Am candidates be necessary & helpful?

Necessary? Yes. For District judges, Pres. Obama normally chooses from the lists of 3 submitted from the Dem senators only.

Helpful? Yes and no. In politics, it is not what one has to say, but who is saying it. Why? If an official ignores the request of an ethnic civic org., say, a law org, there will be no repercussion at that official's re-election time. If the same request from a powerful political group is ignored, when the official faces re-election, he/she may at best expect no support from that group. In the worst case, the official may find strong opponents in both primary & general election, all supported by the political group whose request he/she had ignored.

That is why when a powerful labor union, the Nat'l Rifle Association or AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) sends personalized requests, they will be given due attention. 80-20 PAC is no AIPAC's . But it fights with courage for a diversity that includes Asian Ams.

Asian Am. Legal Eagles & Appeals Court Judges

President Obama has promised our community (via 80-20 EF) that he'll "make it a top priority of my Administration to nominate qualified Asian Ams to serve as Article III Circuit (Appeals) Judges, whenever there are vacancies in those positions."

Since Circuit Court judges often come from District Court judges, please view a picture of the 4 of the only 6 AsAm District Court judges who were present in 2006 when 80-20 announced to drive for more Asian Am. federal judges.

Their names are from right to left Anthony Ishii, Anthony Ching (Solicitor General of AZ), Ronald Lew, S. B. Woo (80-20), Susan Oki Mollway, and Dana Makoto Sabraw. District Judges Danny Chin and George King were not present owing to prior commitments, although they have consistently worked with 80-20 EF for the benefit of our community. 80-20 has high hopes that some of them plus other Asian Ams. will become Circuit (Appeals) Court judges.

When it comes to good jobs, e.g. judgeships, high managerial positions in big corporations & universities, America is much more political than most first generation Asian Am. immigrants may reasonably perceive.

80-20 Educational Foundation (EF) is pleased to provide the above educational service. If you find the service useful, donate to http://www.80-20educationalfoundation.org/donate/donate.asp or send a check to Katy Woo, 5 Farm House RoadNewark, DE 19711.

Respectfully yours.

S. B. Woo
President (a volunteer), 80-20 Educational Foundation, Inc.

Readers wanting to comment, please go http://www.80-20educationalfoundation.org/politicaledu/posterboard.asp