Justice John Paul Stevens has announced that he will retire during this term giving President Obama to make an appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Stevens turns 90 years of age in April 2010. He was appointed by former president Gerald Ford (1974-1977).

This vacancy will mark the second appointment opportunity by Obama following the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among names mentioned as a possible successor if Stevens retires soon is former U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 50, formerly at Harvard Law, where Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama studied law. Kagan served as Associate White House Counsel during the Clinton Administration; Professor and then Dean of Harvard Law School; and now, Solicitor General of the United States representing the U.S. Government in cases before the United States Supreme Court.

The President is reportedly also considering federal appellate judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland. Judge Diane Wood, 59, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was appointed in 1995 by President Clinton. She previously worked her as a lawyer on the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals worked in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and is a male white applicant.

It is widely believed that the president is seeking to fill the upcoming vacancy with a nationally known scholar.

The Downtown JACL says that both Hastings Law School Dean Frank Wu and Associate Dean and Professor Goodwin Liu from UC Berkeley School of Law are both nationally known scholars, in fact among the best of the best.

Frank Wu is author of "Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White," and co-author of "Race, Rights, and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American internment." Wu is only 42 and is young enough to serve four decades on the high court. Wu previously served as professor of Law at Howard University and was the former dean at Wayne State University Law School.

Professor Liu's name has already been nominated by President Obama but to the federal court of appeals. Liu is an Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boat Hall). He is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, civil rights and the United States Supreme Court. He was nominated by President Obama on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on February 24, 2010. Prior to joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2003, Liu was a appellate litigator with the law firm of O'Melvey & Myers at the Washington Office. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and for Justice David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His experience also includes working as a special assistant to deputy secretary of the U.S. Deparmtment of Education.

"There are a number of Asian Americans who have impressive qualifications," stated Downtown JACL spokesperson Kitty Sankey. "We have found many who currently serve as judges and individuals who have been recogized by their peers as being leaders in civil rights and who have established themselves as nationally recognized scholars."

"People ask, why would the Downtown JACL be concerned about a Supreme Court vacancy," stated Sankey. "The Supreme Court decisions affect our civil liberties. In 1942, Fred Korematsu went to jail for refusing to objey the World War II internment order. His case went to the United States Supreme Court which held in 1944 that there was a military necesity to incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans. Forty years later, the Federal Court overturned Mr. Korematsu's wrongful conviction thanks to the hard work of Civil Rights Attorney Dale Minami and Edward Milton Chen and others."

Among the other candidates that the Downtown JACL is asking the President to consider are the following persons: Federal District Court Judge Dolly Gee who graduated from UCLA in 1981. During law school she externed for the Honorable Allen Broussad of the California Supreme Court. After law school she clerked for the Honorable Milton L. Schwartz, U.S. District Court Judge, Eastern District from 1984 - 1986. Judge Gee was well known as a labor lawyer prior to becoming a judge. In 1994, Gee was appointed by President Clinton to serve for a five year term on the Federal Service Impasses Panel in Washington, D.C. As an FSIP member, she mediated and arbirtrated numerous disputes and participated in hundreds of summary dispositions of impasses between federal agencies and federal sector labor unions.

Federal District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, Civil Rights Attorney Dale Minami, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Federal Judge Denny Chen of New York (nomination currently pending for the federal court of appeals), 9th Circuit Federal Justice Wallace Tashima, California Supeme Court Justices Joyce Kennard, and Ming Chen, Hawaii Supreme Court Justices Paula Nakayama and Chief Justice Ronald T. Moon, Federal District Judge Anthony Ishii of the Eastern District of California, and Federal District Judge Susan Oki Mollway of Hawaii, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Rose Ochi, U.S. Federal Court Judge Ron Lew.


This position has already been filled. This is a previous statement provided by the Downtown JACL.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's recent resignation from the United States Supreme Court has caused Asian American Community Leaders hoping to have a say on the President's next choice. There has not been a vacancy in 11 years.

"Asian American are consistently left out of the consideration for this very important position," stated Kitty Sankey, President of the Japanese American Citizens League Downtown Los Angeles Chapter. "There are many qualified Asian Americans that should be given consideration, " she stated.

Among those that the Downtown Los Angeles JACL has requested the President to give consideration are the following: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Takasugi, Justice Paula A. Nakayama and Chief Justice Ronald T. Y. Moon of the Hawaii Supreme Court; California Supreme Court Justices Ming Chen and Joyce Kennard, 9th Circuit Appeals Justice Wallace Tashima, Civil Rights Attorney Dale Minami, and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge John Sugiyama, U.S. District Court Judges Denny Chin of New York, Anthony Ishii of California, and Susan Oki Mollway of Hawaii. The following profiles are candidates that the Downtown JACL supported in previous years.

United States Senior Federal Judge Robert Takasugi

Judge Takasugi received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1953 from UCLA and his law degree from USC in 1959. From 1960 - 1973 he served as a Senior Partner with the law firm of Velarde & Takasugi. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1973 by Governor Ronald Reagan and was elevated to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1975 by Governor Jerry Brown. He was appointed the the U.S. District Court by President Ford in 1976. He served as legal counsel to the Japanese American Citizens League. Born on September 12, 1930, Judge Takasugi is currently 75 years old. Judge Takasugi and his family was in an interment Camp in 1942 when he was 11 years old. Takasugi eventually testified before Congress. His testimony helped repeal Title 2 of the Emergency Detention Act that authorized the incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945. Judge Takasugi currently has senior status as the Central District of California. (Judge Takasugi passed away August 2009 at the age of 78. The Downtown JACL thanks Judge Takasugi for his years of volunteer work with the JACL and other communtiy groups. )

United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Judge A. Wallace Tashima

Judge Tashima received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from UCLA in 1958 and his law degree from Harvard in 1961. From 1962 - 1968, he served as a California Deputy Attorney General. He served as staff Attorney for Amstar Corp in San Francisco from 1968 - 1972 then as its Vice President and General attorney from 1972 - 1977. He became a partner with Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles from 1977 - 1980. He was appointed to the United States District Court in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter then to the U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. He was born on June 24, 1934.

United States District Court Judge Denny Chin, Southern District of New York

Judge Denny Chin came to the Uniteed States in 1956 as an immigrant from Hong Kong when he was two years old. His father was a cook and his mother was a seamstress. He graduated from Princeton and Fordham University School of Law. His employment career includes working as a prosecutor with the United States Attorneys Office.





United States District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii, Eastern District of California

Judge Ishii graduated from Reedley Junior College in 1966 and from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1973. He graduaed from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., in 1973. From 1975- 1979, he worked as a Deputy City Attorney for the SacramentoCity Attorney's Office. In 1979 he worked for the Fresno County Public Defenders Office and from 1979 - 1983, he worked in privae practice in Fresno. From 1979 - 1983, he worked as a Justice Court Judge for the Parlier-Selma Judicial Disrict, for the Fresno Court. From 1994 - 1997, he worked as a Municipal Court Judge for the Central Valley Municipal Court in Fresno. On February 12, 1997, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.


United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway, Hawaii District Court

Judge Mollway was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. She graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor's degree and a masters degree in Elish literature and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. She has worked in civil litigation for 17 years and in 1986 became a pater at the law firm of Cades,Schutte, Felming & Wright. Her experience as a lawyer includes successfully arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1994.




San Francisco Elected Public Defender Jeffrey Adachi

Public Defender Jeffrey Adachi graduated from UC Berkeley in 1982 and from the UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1985. After graduating from law school, Adachi joined the public defenders office where he has personally handled more than 3000 cases and more than 100 jury trials. He rose thru the ranks becoming Chief Assistant Public Defender then beating an incumbent Kimiko Burton to win the top spot as Elected San Francisco Public Defender in 2001. He is a Past President of the San Francisco Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and is active with dozens of other nonprofit organizations in the Bay area. He is also a certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California. A Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the State Bar of California, he is considered among the top Elected Public Defenders in the United States.



John Sugiyama, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge

Judge Sugiyama became a Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa, California in 2002. He is graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Bekeley Boalt Hall School of Law. He served as a California Deputy Attorney General from 1975 - 1985. In 1986, Sugiyama began serving as Senior Assistant Attorney General, managing the Appeals, Writs, and Trials Section of the Criminal Division of the the California Attorney General's Office in San Francisco. In 1992, he transferred to the Health, Education and Welfare Section of the Civil Division. During that time period, he represented both Republican and Demoratic Governors in complex civil law suits. He has also successfully proseucted over 300 criminal cases at every level of the state and federal court.. From 2000 - 2002, Sugiyama served as Deputy Director and Chief Counsel, the California Department of Corrections. He is an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Cultural and and Commnity Center of Northern, Califiornia, and was past president of the Asian American Bar Association.

Attorney Dale Minami

Minami was lead counsel in the land mark case Korematsu v. United Stated States which overturned a 40 year old conviction for a refusal to obey a executive order targeted at Japanese Americans. He was also lead counsel in the case of JACL v. Washington State University concerning having an Asian American Studies Program at the Washington State University. He also handled the case of Nakanishi v. UCLA, in fighting for tenure of Professor Don Nakanishi. He graduated from USC in 1968 Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Polictical Science and a Law Degree from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall in 1971. He is also a member of the Japanese American Citizens League. He is also a recent recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association for his advocacy with civil rights.



Justice Joyce L. Kennard, California Supreme Court

Justice Kennard and her widowed mother spent time in a interment camp. She grew up in the poorest areas of Indonesia sharing a jungle hut with four other familes. When she was 14 years old, she had her right leg amputated above the knee due to a tumor that developed on her leg. She graduated from USC with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1971 and her law degree in 1974. She served as a Deputy Attorney General from 1975 - 1979 and as a research attorney for the California Court of Appeal, 2nd District, from 1979 - 1986. She was apppointed the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1986 elevated a year later to the Los Angeles Superior Court and then to the California Supreme Court in 1989. She was born on May 6, 1941. Despite being appointed by Governor Deukmejian, many scholars consider her to be among the more liberal Justices on the bench often siding with the under dogs against big businesses and government.


Justice Ming Chen, California Supreme Court

Justice Chen graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1964 and a law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1967. Upon graduating from law school,Chin served two years in the U.S. Army. He obtained the rank of captain and won the Army Commendation medal and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam. He served as a Alameda County Deputy District Attorney from 1970 - 1972 and as a attorney with Aiken, Kramer & Cummings in Oakland from 1973 - 1988. He was appointed to the Alameda Superior Court and elevated to the California Court of Appeals, 1st District by Governor George Deukmejian. Governor Pete Wilson appointed him the the California Supreme Court in 1996. He was born on August 31, 1942. Justice Chen could potentially be the first Chinese American appointed to the United States Supreme Court.


Ronald T.Y. Moon, Chief Justice, Hawaii Supreme Court

Chief Justice Moon graduated from the University of Iowa School of Law in 1965. He was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii in 1993. He served as a prosecutor from 1966 - 1968. He worked as an associate at the firm of Libkuman, Ventura, Moon, and Ayable. He is a third generation Korean- American. His grandparents immigrated to the state of Hawaii in the early 1900's. If appointed to the United States Supreme Court, he would become the first Korean American.




Paula A. Nakayama, Associate Justice, Hawaii Supreme Court

Justice Nakayama was the first woman on the Hawaii Supreme Court in 26 years. If appointed to the United States Supreme Court, she would be making history there as well as the first Japanese Americanl. She got her Bachelors Degree from UC Davis and her law school from the prestigious UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She worked as a prosecutor for the City & County of Honolulu and later went into private partner at the firm of Shim, Tam, and Kimitsu where she was a partner. She was appointed as a judge of the Hawaii Circuit Court in 1992.




Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Rose Ochi.

Ochi becaqme the Associate Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House. She was in chage of the Bureau of State and Local Affairs. She was also appointed as Director of community relations Sevice for the Depatment of Justice. Locallly she served as a LAPD commissionerand Diector for the Mayor's Criminal Justice Planning Office for the City of Los Angeles.





U.S. Federal Judge Ronald Lew

Judge Lew graduated from Loyola University in 1964 and from Southwestern University School of Law in 1971. He was a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney from 1972 - 1974 and was a partner in the law firm of Avans & Lew from 1974 - 1982. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by Governor Jerry Brown where he served as a Municipal Court Judge from 1982 - 1984. In 1984, he was appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court by Governor George Deukmejian where he served as a bench officer from 1984 - 1987. He was appointed to the United States District Court - Central District by President Reagan in 1987. He is 64 years old in 2005.