Judge Lucy Koh Nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

On Wednesday, September 8, 2021, President Joseph Biden nominated Judge Lucy H. Koh as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Judge Koh is currently sitting as a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which she joined in 2010 after she was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

The United States Courts of Appeals are considered the most powerful and influential courts in the United States after the Supreme Court. Because of their ability to set legal precedent in regions that cover millions of Americans, the United States Courts of Appeals have strong policy influence on U.S. law.

If confirmed, Judge Koh will join only two other Korean Americans currently serving as a US federal appellate judge.

Judge Koh previously served as a state court judge in California and worked in private practice and at the Justice Department. She received her bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard University.  

According to the White House Press release, Judge Koh, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, would be the first Korean-American woman to serve as a federal appellate judge and the second AAPI woman to serve on the Ninth Circuit from California.  

History of Korean Americans on the US Court of Appeals

Judge Herbert Young Cho Choy (January 6, 1916 – March 10, 2004) was the first Asian American to serve as a United States federal judge and the first person of Korean ancestry to be admitted to the bar in the United States.  He served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Judge Michael H. Park was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in May 2019.  Judge Park is the first Korean American judge in the Second Circuit as well as the first federal judge of Korean descent on the East Coast.

Judge Kenneth K. Lee was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in June 2019. Judge Lee is the first federal judge who was born in the Republic of Korea and the second Korean American to serve on the Ninth Circuit.

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