Asian-American leaders' reactions were mostly positive following President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court Wednesday, with a focus on putting pressure on the Republican-controlled Senate to conduct hearings.
“Nominating justices to the Supreme Court is one of the primary duties of the President. In naming Judge Merrick Garland, a seasoned jurist with a commendable record, President Obama has fulfilled that constitutional duty," Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement. "Now it is time for the Senate to fulfill theirs. Refusing to even meet with a nominee, as Senate Republicans are doing, is an unprecedented level of partisan dysfunction."
“President Obama has taken a great deal of effort to ensure that the Supreme Court will add another extremely qualified legal scholar to the bench," Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) said. "Chief Judge Merrick Garland has already been considered for a seat on the Supreme Court because of his long history of excellent work on the DC Circuit. The President has chosen a+ man with amazing credentials, a mastery of the law and a history of independent legal thought."
Asian-American advocacy organizations also approached the nomination positively, though some expressed disappointment that DC Circuit Court Judge Sri Srinivasan did not receive the nomination. Srinivasan would have been the first Asian American and the first practicing Hindu nominated to the Supreme Court.
“Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC applauds President Obama for today announcing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court," Mee Moua, president and executive director of the AAJC, said in a statement. "It is now incumbent on us – the American people – to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold their hearings and cast their votes on the nomination of Judge Garland.”
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a non-profit civil rights organization, released a statement Wednesday supporting the nomination and celebrating Srinivasan's place on the presidential "short list."
"Chief Judge Garland is remarkably qualified to serve as the next Supreme Court Justice," the statement reads. "After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, he served in the private sector, in government, in academia, and in the judiciary. While SALDEF called on President Obama to nominate the first Asian American Supreme Court Justice, we realize the profound statement Sri Srinivasan made as the first Asian American in history to make it to a President’s 'short list.' SALDEF wholeheartedly supports President Obama’s nomination of Chief Judge Garland, we are encouraged by the consideration of Judge Srinivasan, and we eagerly await the first Asian American Supreme Court Justice."
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans national director Christopher Kang, who previously worked for the White House and aided in the confirmation processes of Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, also released a statement supporting the nomination.
"It is clear why, just a few years ago, a senior Republican Senator said Chief Judge Garland would be a 'consensus nominee' to the Supreme Court," Kang said in a statement. "The same is true today. NCAPA also would like to acknowledge that President Obama reportedly considered Judge Sri Srinivasan as a finalist for this Supreme Court nomination—the first time in history that an Asian American has reached the final round of consideration to serve on our nation’s highest court."
Kang continued, "While we are disappointed that President Obama did not nominate an Asian American today, we stand behind his nominee and are confident that when future Supreme Court vacancies occur, Asian Americans will continue to receive this highest level of consideration and that there will soon be an Asian American Supreme Court Justice."
The AAPI Victory Fund, a Super PAC focused on mobilizing Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, released a statement expressing first its disappointment that Srinivasan did not get the nomination, eventually stressing the need for the Senate to hold a hearing.
"For the first time in American history the President interviewed an Asian American for the U.S. Supreme Court," Shekar Narasimhan," chairman and founder of the AAPI Victory fund, said in a statement. "While we are disappointed that an AAPI was not selected, we are pleased that President Obama strongly considered Judge Sri Srinivasan. The AAPI community wants a seat at the table in every venue and truly believes the bench of qualified AAPI candidates deserve consideration for the very next vacancy."
Narashimhan continued, "Today, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community must come together and work to ensure the Senate holds a fair hearing and a timely vote on the President's nominee. "