President Biden nominated Dale Ho to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on September 20. As one of the nation’s premier civil rights attorneys, Mr. Ho has spent his career fighting for our most critical constitutional rights and legal protections and is eminently qualified to serve as a Federal Judge. An accomplished litigator, Mr. Ho has extensive experience at every level of the Federal Court system, including twice arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Southern District, which includes the boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan and the northern NYC suburbs, covers one of the most populated and racially diverse regions in the entire nation. If confirmed, Dale Ho would be the only Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) man sitting on the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Ho graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1999. He attended Yale Law School and received his J.D. in 2005. While in law school, Mr. Ho interned for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and for the Southern Center for Human Rights. After graduation, Mr. Ho worked at the very court he has been appointed to, clerking for Judge Barbara Jones of the SDNY. He subsequently spent two years clerking for Republican appointed Associate Judge Robert Smith of the New York Court of Appeals, the state of New York’s highest court. Judge Smith, commenting on his former clerk, noted that “[c]ourtesy was a hallmark of Dale’s character,” that Mr. Ho did not view “members of a different political tribe as the enemy,” and that Mr. Ho’s “sense of the innate worth and dignity of every human being and his ability to behave accordingly will serve him in good stead in a trial courtroom.”
Mr. Ho began his legal practice at the New York law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen where he gained valuable experience litigating both civil and criminal cases in federal and state court. Mr. Ho then spent four years as an Assistant Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Since 2013, Mr. Ho has led the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. As the project’s director, Mr. Ho has advocated on behalf of the constitutional rights of voters, regardless of political party. In 2018, Mr. Ho and his team filed an amicus brief in support of Maryland Republican voters who were suing to stop a Democratic gerrymander of the state’s congressional districts which ensured that all but one of the state’s representatives was a Democrat. Mr. Ho has also successfully challenged racially discriminatory voting restrictions, including a lawsuit concerning a stringent North Carolina voting restriction that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found was unconstitutional because it “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision.” Mr. Ho also successfully challenged the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census before the U.S. Supreme Court. As he effectively argued, the Trump administration’s citizenship question would have deterred millions of noncitizens and their families from participating in the census, potentially skewing the distribution of federal resources, as well as representation in Congress for a decade.
In addition to his extensive appellate litigation experience, Mr. Ho has been lead counsel in numerous federal and state trials, as well as supervising many other suits brought by the ACLU. In one trial, Fish v. Kobach, Mr. Ho and the ACLU were successful in re-enfranchising over 30,000 Kansas voters of all political affiliations who had been improperly removed from the state’s voter rolls. Election law scholar Rick Hasen noted that the case was the “most important voting rights trial so far of this century,” and described Mr. Ho’s cross-examination skills as “about the best [he] had ever seen.”