On Christmas day, Californian judge Dolly Gee was confirmed as a U.S. District Court judge, according to the Los Angeles Times. What makes this occasion particularly noteworthy is that Gee will be the first ever Chinese American woman to serve at this level. This is also a huge step forward in terms of racial and gender diversity in politics, and Gee’s appointment provides an essential voice and outlet for the Asian American community.

The L.A. lawyer’s family history is one that resonates with many first-generation Asian Americans. Her mother immigrated to the U.S. as a garment worker and her father started out as an owner of a soy sauce and pickled cabbage factory in Brooklyn.  Gee’s mother refused to teach her how to sew, in hopes that she would have a career beyond factory work. “Her hope was that I would never have to do that for a living. She wanted me to go to school and get an education and become whatever I wanted to become,” Gee said

Along with Gee, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen and Federal Magistrate Judge Edward Chen were also nominated by President Obama this past summer for United States District Judge and the United States District Court bench, respectively. Nguyen was confirmed earlier in December and is the first Vietnamese American to serve on the federal court in the nation; Chen has yet to be confirmed but could be the first Asian American serving for his district in Northern California.

Of note: Herbert Choy, a Korean American, was the first Asian American man to serve on the federal judiciary in 1971, and Susan Oki Molliway, a Japanese American, was the first female Asian American federal judge appointed in 1998 who is still serving today.

Photo of Chen, Gee and Nguyen from Northwest Asian Weekly

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