The First Japanese American on the U.S. Court of Appeals

Transcripts available in the following languages:

I know there had been on the Ninth Circuit- where I am now- there had been 2 Asians- a Chinese American named Tom Tang and a Korean American named Herbert Choi. They were both very good judges, but it was a… I don’t know if I… I guess you know I thought about the fact that I was the first Japanese American on the Court of Appeals. In fact, I think I’m still the only one. I’m not sure. I think so.

But, I don’t know if that played a big as a part in my thinking as just the fact that I had been a District Judge for 15 years. I felt that I was ready to be a Circuit Judge, and I wanted to do something different.

President Clinton, like President Carter and to an extent the Bushes between them, I think he made something of an affirmative effort to diversify the Court of Appeals. And so I think that was part of the impetus that got me the appointment.

Although I’m not sure if that’s the primary reason or not, but I’m sure that it was a part. So it’s important that that was a factor, and I think generally, I think it’s important for the court, including the appellate court, to reflect the society that it judges.

Date: July 2, 2014
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Sakura Kato
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

Court of Appeals diversity Federal Bench First Herbert Choi japanese american Tom Tang

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