Friday, September 16, 2011

Men beat AsAm to death; sentenced to probation and fined $3,780

Written by Ed Lin, an 80-20 Board Member

Dear fellow Asian Americans,

Of what importance are judicial appointments and how can it affect the 99.999% of us who are law abiding citizens? Why should we even care? Does the above ACTUAL verdict concern you?

Remember the 1942 internment of Japanese Americans during WWII? Approximately 110,000 of them lost their property, were incarcerated with total disruption to their careers, businesses and private lives, and put under a devastating cloud of suspicion about their patriotism.

Fortunately, German Americans and Italian Americans escaped a similar miscarriage of justice, and were accorded our constitutional protection of due process and presumption of innocence (notwithstanding the fact Germany and Italy were allied enemies of the US on the European battlefront).

Nor should we forget that in 1982, a Detroit Chinese American, Vincent Chin, was beaten to death by two Caucasians, former Chrysler plant superintendent Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz. They mistook Chin to be Japanese and took out their unemployment anger on Chin. Judge Charles Kauffman, on sentencing the two guilty men, said “These are not the kind of people you put behind bars” and sentenced the two men to three years’ probation and $3,780 in fines and court costs. Although the miscarriage of justice sparked an outcry amongst the Asian American community, there was insufficient political muscle for justice to be served, and to achieve a different outcome.

Insufficient political muscle for justice to be served . . .

Does this seem like déjà vu? How many times does history have to repeat itself before we finally learn our lesson? And realize that AsAm unity and political strength is crucial to our social wellbeing and equality?

AsAm are the most educated ethnic group in the US and comprise 5% of US population. Although we have a disproportionately high (5.5%) representation in the legal profession with many exceptionally qualified legal scholars, we have a dismal representation in the Federal judiciary:

In the nearly two decades between 1988 and 2005, the number of AsAm federal judges increased from 5 to 6. In 2006, 80-20 began a push for more AsAm federal judges. In 2008, we secured a written promise from then presidential candidate Obama to increase the number of AsAm federal judges. He has substantially fulfilled that promise to AsAm. As of today, we have 15 AsAm federal judges, with one at the Appellate level. If all AsAm judicial scholars had an equal opportunity to become federal judges, we ought to have around 40 instead of 15 AsAm federal judges.

To give you an inkling of the amount of behind-the-scenes work necessary to bring a judicial nominee to a vote in the Senate, consider this: In 2010 and 2011, 80-20 worked with CA Senators and the White House to nominate a supremely qualified jurist, Professor Goodwin Liu of UC Berkeley, to serve as a life-tenured judge on the US Court of Appeals. Although successfully nominated and confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, his final confirmation by the US Senate was met with partisan opposition by Republicans who would not permit a vote to take place. 80-20 called for a fax campaign to Republican Senators to support Liu, but to no avail. President Obama re-nominated Liu in 2011 and again the confirmation could not come to a vote due to a Republican block. Professor Liu then withdrew his nomination and he has just been confirmed to the CA Supreme Court. See below.

Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people. Power corrupts and partisan politics lead some to put political gains ahead of national interests and equality for all.

Remember Selma? Remember Birmingham? The only thing protecting us against tyranny and injustice, is our judiciary system. In the end, the responsibility for fighting for AsAm equality and justice falls squarely on your shoulders and mine.

If WE don’t care enough about AsAm equality and justice to put them front and center of our priorities, then WHO will??

80-20 is the singular AsAm organization that has steadfastly fought the toughest battles for you and your children. Yet out of 15.5 million AsAm, only 2,650 pay their dues to support our work! Our political apathy threatens to choke the life out of this scrappy, tough-fighting valiant organization.

If you are one of our special dues-paying members, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. Your steadfast support and shining example sustains 80-20 in its daunting and lonely task. If you’re not, please don’t starve your workhorse any longer. If you want 80-20 to be around to help you or your children, help 80-20 DOUBLE its membership. Using a credit card, go to Or send your check to :

80-20 PAC 13337 South St. #189 Cerritos, CA 90703.

Basic $35; Family $50 or Life Member $1,000.

Thank you.


Dr. Edward Lin
Director, 80-20 Initiative; Family Life Member & Founding Patron

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Confirmation of Goodwin H. Liu's nomination to the California Supreme Court