The Honorable Richard Durbin
Senate Judiciary Committee
Dear Chairman Durbin:
On behalf of the Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a national association representing more than 130 public interest and civil rights organizations, I write to strongly support the confirmation of Judge Lucy H. Koh to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Judge Koh’s exemplary legal career and decade as a Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California make her an exceptional candidate to serve on the Ninth Circuit. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Judge Koh to serve on the U.S. District Court in 2010. Since her confirmation, Judge Koh has issued approximately 3,250 opinions with a reversal rate of just 1.3%. She has ruled on a wide range of civil and criminal matters including notable decisions in the area of privacy and technology law. In 2016, Judge Koh was nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her nomination was reported to the full Senate by a bipartisan vote of 13-7 (with the support of four Republican senators on Committee) but unfortunately was never considered by the full Senate. Prior to her federal judicial service, Judge Koh was appointed to the California Superior Court by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and served there for two years.
Judge Koh’s rulings on these courts reflect a fair and impartial jurist with a clear commitment to equal justice. She made key decisions that ensured a fair and accurate census. In National Urban League v. Ross, the Trump administration reversed course on an extended census timeline developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Koh issued a preliminary injunction requiring that the federal government stick with this COVID-19 responsive timeline and continue the count until the end of October. Sitting by designation on a Ninth Circuit panel one month later, she held that the government’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census violated the U.S. Constitution. Also illustrative of her commitment to equal justice, Judge Koh presided over In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, where tech workers sued Apple, Google, and others for conspiring to keep their salaries low and depressing their pay by 10% to 15%. Judge Koh denied the companies’ motion to dismiss, rejected an initial settlement offer as too low, and ultimately approved a $415 million dollar settlement deemed fair to workers.
Prior to joining the bench, Judge Koh had a distinguished career in public service and private practice, and has an extensive background in both criminal and civil law. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Judge Koh served as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. After the fellowship, she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, first as Special Counsel for Legislative Affairs, next as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, and finally as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Central District of California. In the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Koh earned the FBI Director Louis J. Freeh Award for her successful prosecution of a $54 million securities fraud case. After first working on intellectual property crimes in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Koh developed this expertise in private practice at the Northern California law firms Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and McDermott Will & Emery. Judge Koh’s wide range of both criminal and civil experience prepared her for exemplary service on the Northern District of California and will continue to serve her as an appellate judge.
Finally, if confirmed, Judge Koh, who is the child of immigrants, would be the third AAPI woman to ever sit on a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the first Korean-American woman to serve as a federal appellate judge. The confirmation of Judge Koh, who is nominated to the Circuit Court with the largest AAPI population, will mean that the Circuit better reflects the communities it serves.
Judge Koh’s legal career reflects a deep commitment to the rule of law and the safeguarding of our constitutional rights. Given her exemplary qualifications, the Senate should swiftly confirm Lucy H. Koh to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
President, Alliance for Justice