Contact info: Lisa Dickinson, President, Asian Bar Association of Washington - firstname.lastname@example.org; www.abaw.org
Asian Bar Association of Washington urges voters to focus on qualifications, not race, of candidates in judicial elections.
As we approach an important election, voters need to be able to make informed decisions based on helpful and relevant dialog among and about the candidates. That dialog, of course, should be grounded in the candidates’ experience, the qualities and ability they bring to the positions they seek, and the recommendation of others who have had the first-hand opportunity to observe and assess their work.
A recent comment quoted in the Seattle Times took that dialog in a troubling and dangerous direction. In stating that Judge Ketu Shah’s long list of endorsements was attributable to the political establishment’s desire to appoint minority judges “and protect them” during elections, the comment suggests that Judge Shah ’s endorsements arise from a desire to “protect” him as a person of color, not because of his qualifications. (“DUI lawyers PAC shifts support in judicial races to co-founder’s wife,” Oct. 4, 2014).
ABAW condemns this statement as inappropriately inserting race into this judicial election and potentially any other election involving a sitting minority judge.
“Comments like these are demeaning to minority judges and candidates because they suggest that minorities get where they are because they’re minorities, and not because of their ability to do the job,” said ABAW President Diana Young. “That’s a perception that so many have fought so hard to overcome.” It is, of course, extremely important that our judges reflect the diversity of the community served by our courts, but voters do not benefit from a dialog that uses an individual’s race to diminish his or her true accomplishments.
“Voters need to educate themselves on the qualifications of judicial candidates, no matter who the candidate is. Part of that education is to consider the candidate’s endorsements and certainly not assume that the endorsements are based on the color of the candidate’s skin,” adds ABAW’s immediate past president Jeffrey Liang.
A good resource for Washington voters to learn more about the judges and candidates is the non-partisan site, www.VotingforJudges.org.
The Asian Bar Association of Washington (“ABAW”) is the professional association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students whose mission is to promote justice, equity and opportunity for Asian Pacific Americans.