Pamela Chen

WASHINGTON — The Senate on March 4 confirmed Pamela K.M. Chen by a voice vote to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

She becomes the first openly gay Asian Pacific American to serve on the federal judiciary.

“NAPABA congratulates Pam Chen on her historic nomination and confirmation and is proud to have supported her in the nomination and confirmation process along with the LGBT community,” said Wendy Shiba, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “We applaud President Obama and Sen. (Charles) Schumer (D-N.Y.) for their continued commitment to diversifying the federal judiciary.”

For almost 14 years, Chen has served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she has served as chief of the Civil Rights Section for more than eight years, and previously as a deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division.

She also served as a deputy commissioner for enforcement at the New York State Division of Human Rights, as a trial attorney in the Justice Department in Washington D.C., and in private practice. Chen has won numerous awards for her work, particularly in addressing human trafficking.

“Judge Chen’s confirmation is a step in the right direction,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. “There are more than 40 federal District Court judges in New York City. Judge Chen will become the third Asian Pacific American, bringing APA representation on the bench more in line with our 14 percent share of the city’s population.”

Chen’s confirmation increases the number of active Asian Pacific American Article III judges to 18 nationwide: two federal Appellate Court judges and 16 federal District Court judges. Obama nominated a record 17 Asian Pacific Americans to the Article III courts.

Three more Asian Pacific American Article III nominees are pending in the Senate: Sri Srinivasan for the U.S. Circuit Court for the D.C. Circuit; Raymond T. Chen for the U.S. Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit; and Derrick Kahala Watson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. NAPABA and AAJC said they are all highly qualified and urged the Senate to move quickly to confirm them.

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