Opinion: Indian candidates need not apply to the federal judiciary
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"In the nation's history, only two Native Americans have ever been confirmed by the Senate for a job on the federal bench. Two. And of those two only one was "openly" Native American at the time of his confirmation (that judge, Frank Howell Seay, found out about his Indian heritage long after he was on the bench). Those numbers are particularly appalling when you consider that (only) 170 or so black judges have been appointed over the same span.
Today, the Senate has before it the nomination of a man named Arvo Mikkanen, who is partially of Native American descent. Mikkanen went to Dartmouth College and Yale Law School, clerked for two federal judges, and has been a federal prosector for nearly two decades. He received a "unanimously qualified" rating from the American Bar Association. President Barack Obama nominated him to fill a seat on the federal trial bench in Oklahoma.
Yet there have been no speeches in the well of the Senate on behalf of Mikkanen. No senators have patted themselves on the back for breaking through another barrier of bias and bigotry. Instead, the Mikkanen nomination languishes in silence, six months after the President first put it into play. No hearing date has been set for his nomination even though other candidates nominated before him already have been approved out of Committee.
Oklahoma's Congressional delegation was quick to denounce Mikkanen's candidacy as "unacceptable" but to this day has never (publically, anyway) explained why. Meanwhile, the White House appears to have expended no political capital in pushing Mikkanen's nomination to the forefront of the battle between the branches over judicial nominees. Like so many of his predecessors, Mikkanen has been left twisting in the wind by the U.S. government."
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