Now that his first Supreme Court pick is safely confirmed, President Obama opened the floodgates today for judicial nominations.
The White House announced nominees for two federal appeals court judgeships: Jane Stranch, a Nashville, Tenn., lawyer for a seat on the Sixth Circuit; and Thomas Vanaskie, a federal district judge in Pennsylvania, for a seat on the Third Circuit.
“Jane Stranch and Thomas Vanaskie have displayed exceptional dedication to their communities through their work and I am honored to nominate them to serve the American people as judges on the United States Court of Appeals,” Obama said in a statement. “They will be diligent, judicious and esteemed additions to the Third and Sixth Circuit benches.”
Two minutes later, the White House announced that Edward Chen, Dolly Gee, and Richard Seeborg have been nominated to be federal district judges in California.
“I am honored to nominate these three distinguished candidates to the United States District Court bench,” Obama said. “They exemplify the best in American jurisprudence and they will serve the people of California with integrity and fairness. I am grateful for their commitment to public service and look forward to their appointment to the federal bench.”
The nominations further Obama's goal of adding diversity to the federal bench. Sotomayor, who will be sworn in Saturday, is the first Hispanic and third woman on the high court.
If confirmed, Gee would become the first Asian-American woman on the district court in central California and Chen would become the first Asian-American federal district court judge in the San Francisco area.
“This marks the first time in history that two Asian Pacific American judicial nominations have been made on the same day. These historic nominations come on the heels of the nomination of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen for United States District Court for the Central District of California just one week ago and demonstrate President Obama’s commitment to improving the long-needed diversity of the federal judiciary,” Andrew T. Hahn, Sr. president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, said in a statement.
The White House-provided biographies are below:
Jane Stranch: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Jane Stranch is a member of the Nashville law firm Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings, where she has developed a national practice in labor and employment law and specializes in complex ERISA litigation. Her ERISA work has required Stranch to develop an understanding of one of the most complex and rapidly changing areas of federal law as it develops across the federal circuits. Stranch’s extensive practice has given her significant experience in alternative forms of dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration. She has also practiced before the Tennessee Regulatory Authority where she worked on a range of environmental issues. She has taught labor law at Belmont University and served on the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee. She is also an active member of her community and dedicates considerable time to pro bono work, civic matters, and her church. She received her BA from Vanderbilt University in 1975 and her JD from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1978.
Judge Thomas Vanaskie: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Judge Thomas Vanaskie currently serves as a federal district court judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He was appointed to that position in 1994, and served as Chief Judge of the District from 1996 to 2006. He has served as Co-Chair of the Third Circuit Library Resources Task Force and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges Association. He is also the Chair of the Third Circuit Judicial Council’s Information Technology Committee. He was previously a Vice-President and Board Member of the law firm Elliott, Vanaskie & Riley in Scranton and prior to that, a partner in the Scranton office of Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, & Kauffman. After graduating from Lycoming College in 1975 and Dickinson School of Law in 1978, Judge Vanaskie began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable William J. Nealon, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Judge Edward Milton Chen: Nominee for the Northern District of California
Judge Edward Chen currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California, a position he has held since 2001. Judge Chen received his undergraduate degree from the University of California – Berkeley in 1975 and his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1979. Immediately following law school, he served judicial clerkships for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew for the Northern District of California and U.S. Circuit Judge James R. Browning of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 1982 until 1985, he worked as an associate at the San Francisco firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. Between 1985 and taking the bench in 2001, Judge Chen worked as a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Northern California Chapter, where he was primarily engaged in civil litigation. Judge Chen is being nominated for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Dolly Gee: Nominee for the Central District of California
Dolly Gee is a managing partner in the Los Angeles law firm Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP, where she practices labor and employment litigation. She received her BA from UCLA in 1981 and her JD from UCLA Law School in 1984. After graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Milton Schwartz on the District Court for the Eastern District of California. She has worked as a Regional Coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters supervising delegate elections, and has been an arbitrator for the Kaiser Permanente Independent Arbitration System since 2000. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California and a past President of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association. She is being nominated to the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Judge Richard Seeborg: Nominee for the Northern District of California
Judge Richard Seeborg is currently a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California, a position he has held since February 2001. Judge Seeborg previously worked at Morrison & Foerester, in both Palo Alto and San Francisco, where he served as an associate from 1982 to 1991 and an equity partner from 1998 to 2000. In between his two tenures at Morrison & Foerester, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Jose, California. From 1981 to 1982, Judge Seeborg was a law clerk to the Honorable John H. Pratt, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia. Judge Seeborg received a BA from Yale College in 1978 and a JD in 1981 from the Columbia University School of Law. Judge Seeborg is being nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.