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First Native Hawaiian woman confirmed as Federal Judge

The Senate Thursday confirmed the first Native Hawaiian woman to sit on the federal bench.

The 19th reports that the Senate voted 53-45 to confirm Shanlyn Park to the U.S. District Court of Hawaii.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) all released a joint statement applauding the vote to Native News Online.

“The U.S. legal system will benefit from the unique combination of wisdom, experience, knowledge, and perspective that Judge Park will contribute to the District of Hawai’i,“NCAI President Mark Macarro said, “and NCAI commends President Biden for nominating Judge Park, Senators Hirono and Schatz for their strong support of Judge Park, and for the votes cast by the Senate to make this historic appointment happen.”

Park has served on the Oahu First Circuit Court since 2001. Prior to that she worked as a public defender.

“It’s really exciting,” said Morgan Saunders of the Native American Rights Fund said to The 19th. “She is a well-respected member of the community. She’s very well qualified. So we look forward to her really being an excellent public servant for the people of Hawaii for years to come.”

There are currently only seven judges from the American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities serving on the federal bench out of 870.

“Judge Park has a storied career in protecting the rights of all and breaks barriers as the first Native Hawaiian woman to serve on the federal bench. As a former public defender for two decades, she has shown a tremendous commitment to equal justice, and as a judge, she is known for integrity and impartiality throughout her adjudication of cases,” Rep Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said in a statement to AsAmNews.

RELATED: Biden on pace to set record for confirmed AAPI Federal Judges

Biden has made a strong effort to diversify the courts. He’s set a record for the number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders appointed to the federal court. He’s surpassed the 22 appointed by President Obama.

“President Biden, in his first term, has nominated 31 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders to the federal judiciary, more than any previous administration,” Priya Purandare, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, said in a September. “President Biden’s confirmation rate of 22 members from the [Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders] community matches President Obama’s total confirmed over two terms.”

Park’s confirmation now brings that number to at least 23.

Happy Lunar New Year! Time is running out to support our Lunar New Year Fundraising Drive through this link. The campaign ends Sunday. AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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