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As the debate heats up over a Supreme Court justice nomination, two Asian Pacific American (APA) groups are working to urge President Barack Obama to consider and nominate an APA jurist

to "enrich the court by adding a previously unrepresented perspective".

The National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association (NAPIPA), a San Jose, California-based non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the API community, and the Silicon Valley Chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) have been holding discussions and fundraisers to promote APA judges as a replacement for the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Feb 13.

Their list of candidates includes Goodwin Liu, a Chinese-American associate justice on the California Supreme Court; Sri Srinisavan, an Indian-American judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Denny Chin, a Chinese-American judge on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and Jacqueline Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the only female Asian-American Judge in the federal appellate court system.

"With important cases regarding education, discrimination and immigration looming, the importance of having a bench that matches the diversity of the country cannot be overstated," said Paul T Jhin, president of the NAPIPA.

"The diversity of our country is one of our greatest strengths," Jhin wrote in a Feb 28 letter to President Obama. "When the men and women who deliver justice look more like our country, confidence grows in our legal system."

In January 2009, there were only eight APA federal judges in the United States, and today there are 25, including four at the Court of Appeals level. But 25 APA federal judges out of 870 positions is not enough for the NAPIPA.

These numbers still reflect a per-capita underrepresentation of the nation's fastest-growing group, and APIs make up almost 6 percent of the population and only 2 percent of the federal bench, the group said in a statement, adding that no API jurist has ever even been interviewed for the US Supreme Court.

According to a Pew Research Center report, Asians are projected to rise to 14 percent of the population and outnumber Hispanics as the nation's largest immigrant group by 2065.

The number of Asian-American voters in 2012 almost doubled from 2000, and by 2040, that number is expected to double yet again.

Asian Americans' views are often overlooked because there's a lack of voice and action from the group, according to Charlie Huang, a Chinese American and deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County, California.

"In the 227-year-history of the United States, no Asian American has even been interviewed for the position of the Supreme Court Justice," said Huang, who encouraged the entire community to get behind the movement and help promote the message to President Obama and the US Senate to at least consider the possibility of an Asian-American Supreme Court Justice.

"These guys (the four jurists NAPIPA recommended) have worked really hard. They would take us a long way to empowering our community," he said.

To Don Sun, president of the Silicon Valley branch of APAPA, it would be a significant step to have an Asian-American jurist nominated for the Supreme Court, even if he or she may not ultimately be appointed.

"If you don't even think about it, you will never make it," said Sun, who said he has been closely following the case of former New York City police officer Peter Liang.

Tens of thousands of members from the Chinese community held rallies in more than 40 cities on Feb 20 to support the Chinese-American rookie officer whose manslaughter conviction was seen by many as unfair.

"I think the rallies are only a beginning. Chinese Americans should get more involved in the nation's judiciary and, maybe, they can start by not evading jury duty," he said.

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