Asian American woman confirmed to DC federal court in historic first

The U.S. Senate confirmed Florence Y. Pan to serve as a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Why this matters: Pan, who was first nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016, is the first Asian American woman to fill a seat on the D.C. federal court. She was again nominated by President Joe Biden in March.

  • Pan is filling the seat left by Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Black American judge who replaced Attorney General Merrick Garland in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in June. Pan secured a 68-30 vote.

  • Pan’s nomination advances Biden’s commitment to promote diversity in the federal judiciary. “The historic nature of Judge Pan’s nomination will help build a federal bench that reflects full diversity,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, according to Reuters.

Background: Pan has been an Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court since 2009 serving in the Civil Division, Criminal Division and Family Court. She previously served in the District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for 10 years.

  • Pan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with two undergraduate degrees in 1988. She received her Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Stanford Law School in 1993.

  • Both Obama and Biden’s nominations for Pan came upon the recommendation of Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). According to her office, Norton has been granted “senatorial courtesy” to recommend judges for the U.S. District Court for D.C., the U.S. Attorney for D.C., the U.S. Marshal for the D.C. Superior Court and the U.S. Marshal for the U.S. District Court for D.C.

  • “D.C. Superior Court Judge Florence Pan has the professional experience and academic credentials to be an outstanding federal district court judge,” Norton said in a statement. “At this time in history, when Asian Americans are literally being attacked, her confirmation by the Senate today holds particular importance. I have full confidence that she will offer excellent service on our U.S. District Court.”

Featured Image via Sen. Dick Durbin

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