NAPABA Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decision

For Immediate Release: Date: June 29, 2023

Contact: Rahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) is disappointed in the United States Supreme Court’s decision today in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, which held that the consideration of race, as one factor among many in a holistic college admissions process, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. With colleges and universities acting as incubators for the future leaders of the Nation, the decision now places an obstacle to achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the pipelines of leadership.

As detailed in A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times (Portrait Project 2.0) published by the American Bar Foundation and NAPABA, we know that though the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community has seen progress in some areas, underrepresentation of our community in the top ranks of the legal profession persists. Portrait Project 2.0, along with NAPABA’s amicus brief with the Court, highlighted the continuing need to advance diversity efforts in the legal profession, where the AANHPI community, along with all communities of color, struggle to achieve success.

At bottom, the Court’s decision today places an impediment to efforts to diversify the legal pipeline at its early stages, the college admissions process. Despite the ruling, NAPABA remains committed to its long-standing values. Whether advancing our leadership and mentorship programs, working with the private sector, government, and public interest stakeholders, or through our partnership with the law student community, NAPABA remains acutely focused to ensure that the profession and leadership reflect the communities that they serve and that the AANHPI community is meaningfully represented.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds

AABANY Co-Sponsors Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program

AABANY co-sponsored the Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program on May 31, 2023, organized by and held at the Appellate Division, Second Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Congratulations to Hon. Randall T. Eng, Retired Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department for this award named in recognition of his tremendous and trailblazing career and impact on the AAPI community. 

Congratulations to Congresswoman Grace Meng, 6th Congressional District. As the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, it is only fitting that she is the first recipient of the Hon. Randall T. Eng award. Congresswoman Meng’s advocacy for the AAPI community is impactful and far-reaching and AABANY applauds her tremendous work and service, including her work towards the creation of a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. 

Congratulations to Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and the Appellate Division, Second Department with the successful launch of the Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program. 

The Program included remarks from:

Hon. Lara J. Genovesi, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Hon. Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Letitia James, New York State Attorney General

Melinda Katz, District Attorney of Queens

Hon. Lillian Wan, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Karen Kim, President, AABANY

Chief Judge Hon. Rowan D. Wilson was also in attendance, as well as the distinguished judges of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals, Hon. Madeline Singas, Michael Garcia, and Anthony Cannataro, for their attendance.

It was a privilege to collaborate with the Hon. Lillian Wan and the co-sponsoring bar associations: KALAGNY, FALANY, SABANY, MUBANY, and SAICBAQ. This event provided a meaningful and memorable way to celebrate and close out AAPI Heritage Month.

Franklin H. Williams Presents: “Empowered Asian American Leadership” AAPI Heritage Month Program at 60 Centre Street

On May 18, 2023, the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission presented “Empowered Asian American Leadership” at the New York County Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street, in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The program was co-sponsored by AABANY, the New York State Unified Court Systems Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Asian American Judges Association of New York, and the Asian Jade Society of the New York State Courts. 

AABANY member Hon. Jeffrey Oing, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, introduced the Keynote Address, “The Model Minority Victim,” delivered by AABANY member and former Chair of the AABANY: Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, Professor Elaine M. Chiu of St. John’s University School of Law.

Pre-recorded remarks by Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson commenced the program. 

Welcome Remarks were provided by:

Hon. Shahabuddeen A. Ally, Supervising Judge, New York County Civil Court and Acting Justice of the New York Supreme Court; President of AAJANY; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, and AABANY member

Hon. Troy K. Webber, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Co-Chair, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission

Hon. Richard Rivera, Acting Supreme Court Justice and Supervising Judge of the Family Courts, Third Judicial District; Co-Chair, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission

Karen Kim, Senior Counsel at QBE North America; President, AABANY

The program also included CLE presentations, introduced by AABANY member Rina Gurung, Judge, Housing Part, New York City Civil Court; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission.

“The Path to Success and Overcoming Obstacles” was moderated by the Hon. Austin D’Souza, Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York Kings County and AABANY member. Panelists were:

Hon. Zainab A. Chaudhry – Judge, New York State Court of Claims, and AABANY member

Lieutenant Henry Chen– New York County Civil Court, Co-Founder and President, NYSC

Asian Jade Society; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission

Hon. Raja Rajeswari – Chair, NYC Criminal Court Equal Justice Committee; Chair,

NYS Unified Court System Advisory Committee on Language Access

Hon. Toko Serita– Statewide Coordinating Judge for Problem-Solving Courts, NYS Unified

Court System, and AABANY member

“Positive Action to Combat the Perpetual Foreigner Syndrome and Empowering the Community” was moderated by the AABANY member Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission. Panelists were:

Joseb “Joe” Gim, Esq. – Chief, Criminal Court Unit, Kings County District Attorney’s Office

Christina Seid – Community Activist, Entrepreneur, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and AABANY member

President Frank H. Wu – President, Queens College, The City University of New York (CUNY)

Tony Walters, Director, New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion provided Closing Remarks.

AABANY was privileged and honored to co-sponsor this event and thanks the Franklin H. Williams Commission for organizing it. AABANY thanks the speakers for sharing their knowledge and insights on important issues affecting the AAPI community. For more information about the Williams Commission visit their website at https://ww2.nycourts.gov/ip/ethnic-fairness/index.shtml

Member Profile: Karen King Wins Unanimous Victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Domestic Violence and International Custody Dispute Case

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On March 22, 2022, AABANY member Karen King argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada (20-1034), a case involving the interpretation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. Karen is a Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and an active member of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force. She sat down with AABANY to share reflections on the oral argument, diversity among litigators, and the importance of pro bono work. 

Looking back, the law was a natural career choice for Karen.  She was president of the debate team in high school as well as at Yale University, where she majored in philosophy and political science.  After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she moved to New York and began her career at Cravath.  Two decades later, she appears regularly in federal and state courts on behalf of corporate clients, she was named a “Notable Woman in Law” by Crain’s New York Business, and she received both the Federal Bar Council’s Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)’s Pro Bono award.  Her pro bono clients include victims of discrimination, survivors of domestic violence, students with learning disabilities, victims of gun violence, and prisoners on civil rights issues. 

Karen’s impressive career reached another milestone this year when she had her first argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada . She represents Narkis Golan, an American citizen and survivor of domestic violence, and mother to a young child who was born in Italy.  The case has been pending for nearly four years and was accepted by the Supreme Court for argument last December to resolve a circuit split on whether district courts are required to consider ameliorative measures to facilitate return of a child to a foreign country, even after finding that return would subject the child to a “grave risk” of exposure to harm.

During oral argument, the justices were active in their questioning and seemed interested in how best to address situations where the grave risk is sourced to a complex problem like domestic violence.  “Am I correct that the vast majority of these grave risk cases are ones involving domestic violence?” asked Justice Barrett, who continued to say: “It just seems to me that that’s a much different case for ameliorative measures than, say, the nuclear plant next door that the Chief posited at the outset.  That would be a pretty straightforward move, and then there would be no more grave risk, whereas I think you get into the complexity of the financial support payments and the undertaking or restraining order, however it should be categorized, in these domestic abuse cases that pose maybe a unique circumstance?”  The recording of oral argument is available here

When asked whether she expected at the outset that this case would reach the U.S. Supreme Court, Karen replied that she did not. She added that, at the start of the case in 2018, “we were hopeful that it would end at the trial level.” But despite establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, that return to Italy would expose the child to a grave risk of harm, the case went back and forth to the Second Circuit on the question of appropriate ameliorative measures.  Ultimately, Karen and the team came to believe that the interpretation of the Hague Convention set forth by the Second Circuit required review by the Supreme Court.  Despite the extraordinarily slim odds of having a case accepted for argument, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to weigh in on the cert petition and ultimately granted cert. 

Arguing before the Supreme Court is the dream of many litigators. Karen prepared through “lots of moots [i.e., practice sessions], testing answers to every conceivable question we could think of, and reflection and discussion of the issues with colleagues, co-counsel, and pretty much anyone willing to talk about it.” In terms of approach to oral argument, she felt she needed to get straight to the point and anticipate challenging questions from the Justices about the key legal issues. Although the preparation process was similar to what she has done for other appellate arguments, it was clearly “more nerve-wracking, more high profile, and more work.”  She credits having an amazing team supporting her at Morvillo, the incredible work of the Paul, Weiss team (her former firm and co-counsel throughout the case), and the lawyers at the Zashin firm (co-counsel at the Supreme Court merits stage).  Although the oral argument was in person, it was not open to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions.  Karen was accompanied only by co-counsel Dan Levi from Paul, Weiss on the big day.  

At the Supreme Court argument, the Solicitor General’s office was represented by Frederick Liu, and the Respondent Jacky Saada was represented by Richard Min, a family law attorney in New York.  It is believed that this was the first time all three advocates arguing a case before the Supreme Court were of AAPI descent. This is a remarkable moment for the AAPI community, and for AAPI litigators.  Karen recognizes that it was important to “push [herself] to create the moment” and not to “be intimidated by milestones.” 

Karen is a strong advocate for diversity in the courtroom and in law firms.  She advises young litigators to strengthen their courtroom skills and give back to the community through pro bono work.  Karen has been recognized for her pro bono commitment over the years and generally works on one or two ongoing pro bono matters on top of her regular workload. Reflecting on her career thus far, Karen sees her persistence, optimism, and creative thinking, as survival skills that have led to great opportunities.  “You just have to push through… . Keep you head up and keep moving toward your goals.  Don’t let the machine crush you.” 

Oral argument in Golan v. Saada (20-1034) by Todd Crespi

Karen King, Richard Min, and Fred Liu, who argued Golan v. Saada (20-1034)

AABANY Congratulates the Newly-Elected AAJANY Board

AABANY applauds Judge Shababudeen Ally and Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant’s election on February 15 as President and Vice-President of the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY). Both Judge Ally and Justice Pandit-Durant are AABANY members.

Judge Ally is a Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in New York County. He became the first Muslim male elected to New York City Civil Court in 2018 and the first South Asian Supervising Judge in 2020. Judge Ally began his legal career as a staff attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Judge Ally then went to work for the NYC Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. For a decade prior to his time on the bench, Judge Ally operated his own law practice specializing in family and criminal law.

Judge Pandit-Durant is a Justice of the Queens County Supreme Court. Judge Pandit-Durant became the first South Asian judge elected to New York State Supreme Court in Queens and the first South Asian woman judge elected in New York State in 2018. Judge Pandit-Duran began her career as a Prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, serving there with distinction for 25 years before being elected to New York City Civil Court in 2015, becoming the first South Asian to hold that elected office.

On March 2, in an article entitled “Asian American judicial org. works to diversify bench,” the Queens Eagle wrote Asian judges are the “least represented racial or ethnic group on the bench,” making up 6 percent of Queens’s judiciary. In the Queens’s Family Court, “there is only one Asian judge and there are no Asian American judges in the Borough’s housing Court.” In comparison, “White judges account for around 66 percent, 17 percent of judges are Latino and 17 percent are Black,” according to the Office of Court Administration data cited by the Queens Eagle.

This lack of AAPI judicial representation is further exacerbated by the overall increase of Queens’s total population. Data cited by the Queens Eagle indicates that Asian Americans account for the largest population growth of 29 percent in Queens, “outpacing the borough’s overall 7.8 percent growth.”

Judge Ally told the Queens Eagle that though there is a lot of work left to be done, diversity efforts on the bench appear to be headed in the right direction. AAJANY’s board includes three other AAPI judges from Queens: Queens Civil Court Judge Changyong Li is the secretary, recently-elected Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Karen Gopee is the treasurer and Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Francis Wang is now a member of the Board of Directors. AAJANY’s Board of Directors also includes Hon. Lillian Wan, Hon. Meredith Vacca, Hon. Karen M.C. Cortes, and Hon. Shorab Ibrahim.

To read more about the AAJANY election, please click here.

Congratulations to Judge Ally, Justice Durant, and all the newly-elected Board members of AAJANY. Thank you for all you do to represent the AAPI community and to enhance diversity and inclusion on the bench.


NAPABA Applauds the Nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court

Released: February 25, 2022

ContactMary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON –Today, President Biden announced the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson clerked for Justice Breyer and currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

A.B. Cruz III, acting president of NAPABA, released the following statement:

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Jackson on her historic nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a brilliant legal scholar and is well qualified to serve on the Court.

“President Biden’s promise to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court underscores his commitment to diversifying our judiciary. Notably, women and persons of color, including Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, continue to be underrepresented on our courts.

“If confirmed, Judge Jackson will be the sixth woman and third black Justice in our nation’s history to have served on the Court.

“We thank President Biden for nominating Judge Jackson and we urge the Senate to confirm her swiftly.

“NAPABA thanks Justice Stephen Breyer for his service on the Court and his mentorship of many NAPABA members who will continue his legacy in the legal profession and on the courts.”

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.

AABANY Joins NAPAWF and AAJC’s Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Support of Roe v. Wade

AABANY has joined as a co-signatory to the amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC).

In a press release, AAJC stated:

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC), with Duane Morris LLP, filed an amicus brief urging the nation’s highest court to reject a call by the state of Mississippi to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to ban or end the legal right to abortion.

The amicus, or the “friend of the court” brief, represents 29 community and civil rights organizations, as well as bar associations, representing the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander women in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Dobbs case is a challenge, brought by the independent and sole abortion care in Mississippi, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, to the state’s 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

To read the full press release and the amicus brief, click here.

“When There Are Nine” Scholarship Program Offers Opportunities to Women in Law School

In conjunction with the Federal Bar Foundation and several other law firms, 33 women in the legal profession have created a scholarship program in honor of the late United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The program is titled “When There Are Nine” (WTA9), as it was Justice Ginsburg’s answer to the question of when there would be “enough” women serving on the Supreme Court. As the upper echelons of the legal profession are dominated by men, the WTA9 Scholarship program was founded to provide a network of support to young women aspiring to become lawyers. The WTA9 Scholarship will grant each recipient $10,000 as well as mentorship through and beyond law school. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and a dedication to academic achievement. Any women graduating from law school between 2022 and 2025 are eligible to apply no later than June 15, 2021. To learn more about the WTA9 Scholarship, click here.

Congratulations to AABANY Member Glenn D. Magpantay for Receiving NAPABA’s 2020 Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award

Glenn D. Magpantay, a long-time civil rights attorney, advocate, and leader for Asian Pacific American (APA) and LGBTQ rights, is a 2020 recipient of the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s highest honor. Each year, outstanding lawyers are awarded for their exceptional leadership in paving the way for the advancement of other APA attorneys and creating lasting, substantial contributions in the broader APA community.

Glenn’s inspiring commitment to public service and activism started in college and continued after graduation when he was a lobbyist for higher education in the early 1990s. As one of the few Asian people working in the State Capitols at the time, Glenn learned the importance of APA and LGBTQ representation in law.

As a civil rights attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), he quickly became an authority on the federal Voting Rights Act and expert on Asian American political participation. He fought for the right of Asian Americans to vote in their native language, to put in place translated registration forms and language interpreters at poll sites, and to challenge unconstitutional voter ID requirements in many cities.

At the cornerstone of Glenn’s incredible legal work and advocacy is intersectionality. In addition to working with several law firms on pro bono projects, he has recently led two challenges that reached the U.S. Supreme Court: Hawaii v. Trump (2018), which challenged President Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, and DHS v. Regents of the University of California (2020), which challenged President Trump’s proposed cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In a recent interview, Glenn reflected on how LGBTQ Asian attorneys have to navigate through a very traditional work environment where they often cannot express who they really are. In response to this, he has worked for over a decade to create a network for LGBTQ Asian attorneys to find peer support and thrive and advance in their careers. As Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Glenn highlighted the often overlooked stories of LGBTQ Asians, trained a new generation of LGBTQ activists, and cultivated a more diverse face of the LGBTQ movement. And above all, Glenn knows that he could not have done this work without AABANY.

“Ever since I went to my first AABANY event in 1988, they have given me the trust and ability to create these spaces for LGBTQ APA attorneys,” Glenn said. “AABANY is my home because I’ve always felt valued, not just as a public interest lawyer, but also — and especially — as a colorful, openly gay attorney working in the name of Asian American civil rights.”

In addition to the many doors that AABANY has opened for Glenn, he also is incredibly thankful for the support he received from several law firms, such as Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Shearman & Sterling, and Skadden Arps. “I would not have been able to uphold and protect the Voting Rights Act without some of the biggest law firms in New York helping me with issue-spotting, fact-to-rule application, and their commitment to intersectional diversity and inclusion. And I would not have been able to sue New York City for bilingual voting rights without the help of six hundred lawyers from the New York Asian American bar in monitoring polling sites and recording anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement. ”

It’s a lifetime achievement award, but I’m not ready to retire. We have come a long way, but we have not yet come far enough.

Glenn continues to teach and inspire legal minds by teaching legal studies and Asian American studies at Hunter College, Brooklyn Law School, and Columbia University, and his work is far from over.

“The goal was never for me to get an award; it was to change the profession to be more diverse and inclusive where we can achieve our fullest potential,” Glenn said. “It’s a lifetime achievement award, but I’m not ready to retire. We have come a long way, but we have not yet come far enough.”

Please join AABANY in congratulating Glenn on this well-deserved honor and recognition. NAPABA has announced on its website that the Award Ceremony will be held in December 2020. Additionally, NAPABA is honoring its awardees by featuring them on their social media accounts. To access the video on Glenn’s life and achievements, please visit the link below:

NAPABA Applauds Supreme Court Ruling on Protecting DREAMers

For Immediate Release: 
Date: June 18, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director
Email: ppurandare@napaba.org

Today, in a 5-4 landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s decision in 2017 to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) violated federal law in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California. The DACA program, whose beneficiaries are also known as DREAMers, protects eligible undocumented youth from deportation and provides them with work permits. Approximately 650,000 individuals, including more than 16,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), benefit from this program and about 120,000 AAPIs are eligible for DACA. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applauds the Court for its decision, which will protect these individuals, many of whom are the sole providers in their families.

“The Court’s decision ensures the protection of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. These DREAMers now know they are currently safe from being suddenly deported from the country in which they grew up, went to school, and now work,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, President of NAPABA. “There has been strong bipartisan support in Congress to protect DREAMers, who significantly contribute to their communities in the United States. The Court’s decision is not a permanent fix and Congress needs to act. NAPABA remains committed to protecting DREAMers.”

NAPABA’s policy resolution to support the continuation of DACA recipients can be found here and the original resolution to support DACA recipients can be found here. The Supreme Court decision can be found here