Taiwanese-born lawyer is first Asian American federal judge in Washington state

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Tana Lin, 55, is making history as the first Asian American judge appointed to a federal district court in the state of Washington.

Making history: The Senate confirmed Lin, a civil rights lawyer and former public defender with 30 years of legal experience, as a judge to the U.S. district court for the Western District of Washington.

  • Lin’s confirmation, which came to a 52-45 vote, makes her the first Asian American and first former public defender to be appointed to a federal district court in Washington.

  • She will be one of 40 active AAPI judges serving as Supreme Court justices and federal circuit and district judges.

  • Washington state Sen. Patty Murray said she urged President Joe Biden to nominate Lin because Murray thinks she will “bring integrity, independence and compassion to the role.”




  • Murray spoke on the Senate floor to commend Lin’s confirmation.

  • “It matters when we put a former public defender and civil rights lawyer on the federal bench,” Murray said. “It matters quite a bit I think when a federal judge has represented clients who couldn’t afford to hire their own lawyer … and has a long career standing shoulder to shoulder with working people at every turn in her career.”





Representation: Lin represents just one of many Asian American immigrant success stories.

  • According to the Associated Press, Lin immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan with her family at the age of 3. Mandarin was her only spoken language before she was enrolled in school.




  • The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) shared their excitement by posting a public statement on Twitter.

  • “She is a devout public servant who has an exemplary legal career as a civil rights attorney and former public defender who’s enforced civil rights statutes, federal anti-discrimination laws, and a variety of other complex litigation matters,” read the statement from NAPABA president A. B. Cruz III.


Featured Image via Claire Anderson

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