Senate Republicans, in their relentless tirade on women’s bodily autonomy, have blocked yet another pro-choice judicial nominee by President Obama, Edward Chen. Barack nominated the U.S. Magistrate for a federal judgeship in San Francisco. Chen happens to be a former attorney for ACLU and vehemently pro-choice. To little surprise, this caused an uproar among Senate Republicans who inevitably filibustered his nomination.
Not only is this news incredibly disappointing because it means the loss of a pro-choice candidate in the San Francisco judiciary, it also means the loss of the first Asian-American judge in the Northern District of California. In addition, he seems to be pretty damn tuned in on racial disparities in the U.S. (something a judge should be conscious of). Bob Egelko, a chronicle staff writer at the San Francisco Gate, reports,
Chen, 56, named a magistrate by Bay Area federal judges in 2001, was nominated by Obama to the lifetime judicial post in August. He would become the first Asian American judge in the Northern District of California, which covers the coastal area from Monterey County to the Oregon border.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved him by a party-line 12-7 vote in October. Republican opponents cited cases he handled as an ACLU attorney in San Francisco from 1995 to 2001, including an unsuccessful challenge to Proposition 209, the 1996 California initiative that banned government affirmative action programs based on race or gender.
Opponents also cited some of his public statements, including a 2005 speech in which he questioned whether the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina would have been quicker if most of the victims had been white and middle class rather than poor and black.
The good news: this shit aint over — and there is hope for Chen’s renomination. Egelko continues,
The full Senate has not voted on Chen’s confirmation. Last Thursday, the Senate returned six nominations for judicial and administration positions, including Chen’s, to Obama for reconsideration, while leaving other pending nominees to await floor votes when Congress comes back from recess next month.
The Senate action – announced by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., after discussion with his Republican counterpart – does not amount to a rejection of the nominees but signals that they face at least some opposition. Obama must now decide whether to renominate them. Each would need another committee vote before returning to the Senate floor.
The most prominent of the six is Dawn Johnsen, nominated 11 months ago to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the department and the president on legal policy questions. Republican opponents and some anti-abortion Democrats have objected to her record as former legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
White House representatives were unavailable for comment Monday on Chen. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who recommended Chen to Obama, said he has a “pristine record” as a magistrate and deserves confirmation.
“My hope is that the president will renominate Ed Chen and we will be able to move his candidacy,” Feinstein said.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.