Senate confirms nation's first gay Asian-American federal judge

Posted by Justin Snow
March 5, 2013 11:22 AM |

Pamela Chen.jpg

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nation's first out gay Asian-American federal judge Monday evening.

Pamela Ki Mai Chen was swiftly confirmed with little opposition by the Senate Monday evening to the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, becoming the second Chinese-American woman and one of only a few out lesbians to hold one of the country’s 900 lifetime federal judgeship appointments.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chen is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Georgetown Law School. Since 1998, Chen has served as assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. In 2008, she served four months as deputy commissioner for enforcement for the New York State Division of Human Rights, having worked as a civil rights attorney earlier in her career.

Chen was nominated by President Barack Obama in August, who said at the time that he felt confident Chen would "serve on the federal bench with distinction."

Chen's confirmation last night was praised by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who originally recommended Chen to Obama and described her as a "trailblazer in every sense of the word."

"Ms. Chen's wealth of experience and devotion to public service make it clear that she will be an excellent judge," Schumer said in a statement. "Ms. Chen has proven time and again that she is a leader and a pioneer in the legal field. I have every confidence that she will serve her jurisdiction well."

Chen's confirmation was one of a number of "firsts" in the Obama administration's attempt to diversify the judges who preside over the federal courts. Chen is the fourth out gay judicial nominee confirmed during the Obama administration, with four additional out gay judicial nominees still awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

[Image: Pamela Chen appears at her Senate confirmation hearing (Screenshot courtesy of the Senate Judiciary Committee)]

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