Almost eight months after her nomination, Vietnamese-American civil litigator Miranda Du from Nevada was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week to be U.S. district judge for that state, the second Viet federal judge in the country and the first Asian-American federal judge in Nevada.
Du had been recommended by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Upon her confirmation, Reid issued a video statement saying “I’m impressed by Du’s extensive litigation experience and her unquestionable devotion to the state of Nevada.”
Speaking to the Senate before the vote, Reid also noted the historic first that Du’s judgeship would represent for Nevada:
“Although 9 percent of Nevada’s population is Asian-Pacific American, if confirmed Ms. Du will be the first Asian-American federal judge in the history of the state.”
In a separate statement, Nevada’s other senator, Dean Heller, also lauded the confirmation, saying, “I believe she will make an outstanding District Court judge in the great State of Nevada and I am pleased the Senate has confirmed her. Miranda has maintained a dedication to the preservation of justice and integrity throughout her career.”
The vote to confirm was 53-39, with bipartisan support but also with many Senators questioning Du’s qualifications. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, said while her life story was admirable, Du was unqualified for the appointment.
“This is no place for on-the-job training,” Grassley said, according to the AP here.
Du joins the Central District of California’s Jacqueline Nguyen as the only Viets on the federal bench. Judge Nguyen, meanwhile, has been approved by the Judiciary Committee for elevation to the Ninth Circuit and is awaiting full Senate confirmation.
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders applauded Du’s confirmation and noted that “In all, almost six percent of President Obama’s confirmed judges have been AAPI, compared to just one percent for Presidents Bush and Clinton.”
Du’s father had served in the South Vietnamese army. In 1979, when Du was 9, her extended family including aunts, uncles, cousins, fled the country by boat – as she told superlawyers.com in 2009, here.
The boat got to Malaysia, but at first it was turned away. They then did what many other boat people also had to do: They sank the boat, and everybody swam ashore. “If we swam to shore, we couldn’t be turned away,” Du recounted.
Du’s family spent a year in the refugee camp before coming to the United States, settling first in Alabama and then in California. She graduated with a double major in economics and history from UC Davis and received her law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall in 1994. She then moved to Nevada to join the McDonald Carano firm in Reno where she has been ever since, making partner in 2002.