No Asian or Pacific American has ever served in any of the Justice Department’s top four slots — Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General or Solicitor General — but if Kagan is confirmed, odds are good that will change.
Three of the four candidates often mentioned as Kagan’s possible replacement as Solicitor General– Preeta Bansal, Neal Katyal and Sri Srinivasan — are Asian Americans, and all have been involved with NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association).
“This is an exciting time for us,” said John Yang, who co-chairs the NAPABA’s judiciary committee. ”This obviously would be at the highest level any Asian American has ever attained in the Justice Department.”
Katyal, acting Solicitor General (who had been Principal Deputy Solicitor General since the start of the administration), and Donald Verrilli Jr., senior counsel to President Barack Obama, are thought to be the top contenders for the post, though no decision has been made.
While they hold no Senate-confirmed positions in the Justice Department’s Washington headquarters, Asian Pacific Americans are represented in the field by U.S. Attorneys Preet Bharara in New York’s Southern District, Florence Nakakuni in Hawaii and Alicia G. Limtiaco in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The NAPABA has been more active in judicial nominations than executive nominations, but both are stepping stones — if not exactly prerequisites – to fulfilling the group’s highest ambition. ”There are obviously implications for a future Asian Pacific American Supreme Court justice, which we hope is very close in the coming,” Yang said.
We will know soon enough!