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Where EAST meets the Northwest


JUDICIAL FIRSTS. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), right, poses with Tana Lin, left, in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 2021. The U.S. Senate has confirmed civil rights attorney Tana Lin as a federal judge in Seattle. Lin, the president of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, will be the first former public defender and the first Asian American to serve as a federal judge in Washington state, according to Murray. (John Shinkle/U.S. Senate Photographic Studio via AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #11 (November 1, 2021), page 7.

Senate confirms Tana Lin as U.S. judge in Seattle

By Gene Johnson

The Associated Press

SEATTLE ó The U.S. Senate last month confirmed civil rights attorney Tana Lin as a federal judge in Seattle.

Lin, the president of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, will be the first former public defender and the first Asian American to serve as a federal judge in Washington state, said Democratic senator Patty Murray.

"Americans deserve a justice system that will uphold the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected," Murray said. "Building a more fair and just court system starts by appointing more public defenders and more civil rights lawyers ó like Ms. Lin ó as judges."

The 55-year-old Lin helped challenge former President Donald Trumpís travel ban and has represented workers in employment discrimination cases, including immigrant farmworkers in Washington state who were cheated out of wages.

President Joe Biden has said he wants his nominees to bring more professional and demographic diversity to the federal courts. Murray and senator Maria Cantwell recommended Linís appointment after Lin was chosen by a judicial merit selection panel.

Civil rights groups cheered her confirmation, which came on a 52-45 vote.

"Tana Lin is a trailblazing lawyer and exactly what we need to ensure that our federal courts benefit from a diversity of perspectives," said Christopher Kang, chief counsel of the progressive legal reform group Demand Justice.

The senate has also recently confirmed Lauren King, a tribal law expert who is serving as Washington stateís first Native American federal Judge, and David Estudillo, a former immigration attorney and Grant County Superior Court judge, for the federal bench in the Western District of Washington.

Before the confirmations, five of the seven active judge positions in the Seattle and Tacoma courthouses were vacant ó the highest ratio in the country.

Lin began her career as a public defender in Washington, D.C., before becoming a trial attorney in the employment litigation section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division.

She immigrated from Taiwan at age three and spoke only Mandarin at home before being enrolled in school.

She attended Cornell University and New York University School of Law.

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