Padilla Delivers Remarks on Historic Nomination of Judge Lucy Koh for 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

If confirmed, Koh will become the first Korean American woman to serve on a federal circuit court

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla delivers remarks in support of Judge Lucy Koh for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) delivered remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the nomination of Lucy Haeran Koh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Koh’s historic nomination reflects efforts to rebuild the federal bench in a way that better reflects the rich diversity of our nation.

Remarks as delivered are available below and video of the full remarks available here.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and Ranking Member Grassley.

It’s my honor to introduce to the committee Judge Lucy Koh, from the great state of California, as President Biden’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Judge Koh is joined here today by her family – her husband, Tino Cuellar, daughter Ria, and son Mateo.

I think they’re proud of mom. So proud they took red eye flights just to make sure they were here today.

She is also joined by her mother, her brother, and several other members of her extended family and I had an opportunity to welcome each one of them and thank them for sharing Judge Koh with us in public service. 

In many ways, Judge Koh’s story epitomizes the American dream.

She is the daughter of Korean immigrants who fled communism and dictatorship in search of a better life, Judge Koh was born here in Washington, DC and raised in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  

Her experiences there, in public schools challenged with poverty and discrimination, along with the experiences of working in her father’s small businesses, and surrounded by the love and lessons of her immigrant family, helped shape this unique and necessary perspective that she now brings to the federal bench.

Judge Koh worked her way through Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School and began her legal career right here on this Committee, as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow.

Judge Koh went on to build a career as a trailblazing public servant and an outstanding legal thinker.

She spent seven years as a lawyer for the United States Department of Justice, earning numerous accolades for her work, including an FBI award for excellence in prosecuting major fraud. 

Judge Koh then found her way to Silicon Valley, where she made a name for herself as an expert litigator of intellectual property cases.

Her good work and reputation extended far and wide, and in 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—a Republican—appointed her to the Superior Court in California. 

Just two years later, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Koh to the federal district court bench.

She was confirmed unanimously Mr. Chair, unanimously, by 97 members of this Senate—including members who serve on this Committee today.

In the decade since, Judge Koh has gone on to distinguish herself as a jurist, issuing over 3,200 opinions, and presiding over more than 270 trials.

She is well known, not only in her district, but across the country, as a talented, thoughtful, smart, and fair judge.

In 2016, this Committee—including Ranking Member Grassley and Senator Graham—voted 13-7 in support of Judge Koh’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit.

Unfortunately, Judge Koh’s nomination never received a floor vote in the Senate.

So I hope that we seize this opportunity to elevate Judge Koh to the Ninth Circuit, and do so once again with strong bipartisan basis.

If confirmed, Judge Koh will become the first Korean American woman to serve on a federal circuit court.

The historic nature of her nomination reflects our commitment to rebuild our federal judiciary to better reflect the America it serves.

And it also is a representation of Judge Koh’s great talent, intellect, and skill, that the President has entrusted her with this milestone.

Judge Koh, I look forward to hearing from you today, and I thank you for your willingness to continue serving our great Nation.

And colleagues, I will be urging your support of her confirmation.


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