Christopher Kang

  • March 17, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    In November 2004, Neil Gorsuch oversaw legal teams in Eastern and Central Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In an email to President George W. Bush’s Political Director Matt Schlapp, he cheered, “What a magnificent result for the country. For me personally, the experience was invigorating and a great deal of fun.” (The experience for up to 15,000 people unable to vote in Columbus, Ohio because lines stretched for hours was probably less invigorating or fun.)

    Gorsuch continued, “While I’ve spent considerable time trying to help the cause on a volunteer basis in various roles, I concluded that I’d really like to be a full-time member of the team.” 

    His resume describes the various roles in which he was politically active to “help the cause,” with greater specificity than his Senate Judiciary Questionnaire—Co-Director of Virginia Lawyers for Bush-Cheney; Bush-Cheney Marshal; RNC Bronco; and Co-Chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association Judicial Nominations Task Force—for which the Senate Republican Conference cited his Distinguished Service to the United States Senate for his work in support of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

    As Gorsuch began his effort to “be a full-time member of the team,” the way he started and then advanced his public service career raises troubling concerns regarding his nomination to the Supreme Court. 

  • January 6, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    Senate Republicans claim they are “confident” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) will be confirmed to be attorney general, but their rigging of his confirmation process undermines their false bravado. They must be worried that if Americans get to know Sen. Sessions’s record, they would know he is unfit to be attorney general and demand the Senate reject his nomination, just as it did 30 years ago.

    Here are six ways Republicans are stacking the deck.

    1.     Chairman Grassley’s double-standard rush to judgment. As Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has scheduled consideration of two attorney general nominations. He took more than six weeks to schedule the confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch, who is the first African American woman to serve as attorney general. He took barely six minutes to schedule the confirmation hearing for Sen. Sessions, setting a date even before his records were delivered.

    2.     Sen. Sessions refuses to provide the Senate with his full record—which he has previously argued is a felony and that a judge would consider contempt. In 2010, when Sen. Sessions was Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, he charged that a nomination was “‘in jeopardy’ after extraordinary omission of 117 items from Record,” and that the nominee’s “unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying.” He asserted, “At best, this nominee’s extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee.”

  • December 29, 2016
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    Supporters of Sen. Jeff Sessions’s nomination to become attorney general defend his civil rights record by pointing to his role in passing the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity between sentences for crack and powder cocaine offenses. In the context of Sen. Sessions’s overall civil rights record and his opposition to criminal justice reform, even full-throated leadership on this issue would not be enough to overcome concerns about him becoming our nation’s top law enforcement officer, but given efforts to use this law to deflect from that overall record, a closer look is necessary. I was the lead White House legislative affairs staffer on the Fair Sentencing Act and I can tell you that Sen. Sessions’s efforts were only somewhat helpful—and since then have been a far cry from leadership.

    Background and History

    In 1986, Congress established new sentences for cocaine offenses: possession of five grams of crack cocaine (roughly the weight of two sugar cubes) triggered a mandatory minimum five-year sentence, while trafficking 500 grams (approximately one pound) of powder cocaine triggered the same sentence. This disparity was often referred to as a 100:1 ratio and because more than 80 percent of crack cocaine offenders have been African American, the disparity has had an undeniable racial impact.

    In 2001, Sen. Sessions introduced legislation to reduce this disparity to 20:1. However, his approach was to only slightly increase the amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence—and to couple that with decreasing the amount of powder cocaine necessary to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence.

  • November 22, 2016
    Guest Post

    *This post was originally published on The Huffington Post.

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    President-elect Trump announced that he plans to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, and for those who have concerns—or outright opposition—to this pick, recent headlines have been daunting: “Sessions looks like a lock for confirmation.” “Senate Democrats Can’t Stop Sessions, So How Much Will They Fight?

    To some extent, I understand this analysis: Senate Democrats cannot stop this nomination unless Republicans join them, and based on the public statements of support so far, that doesn’t seem likely.

    Then again, I imagine this was also the analysis in 1986, when a Republican-controlled Senate considered Sessions’ nomination to the district court—before the Senate Judiciary Committee held two sets of hearings. Before Senator Howell Heflin (also of Alabama) withdrew his support, stating “fairness and impartiality go to the very heart of our justice system...as long as I have reasonable doubts, my conscience is not clear, and I must vote no.” Before two Republicans joined every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee in opposing his nomination. Before the Judiciary Committee rejected a lower court nomination for the first time in nearly half a century.

    What happened in 1986 could happen again today: Senators could diligently review the record and vote their conscience.

  • April 20, 2016
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    *This post first appeared on HuffPost Politics.

    This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on judicial nominations for just the second time this year.

    At this point, I’m not worried about Senate Republicans doing their job—I’m worried that they’ve forgotten what doing their job even looks like.

    Senate Republicans are not only politicizing and undermining the Supreme Court, with their refusal to even consider Chief Judge Garland’s nomination, but they are doing the same thing to lower courts as well. They are likely to damage our entire judiciary—all for political gain, so they can leave more vacancies open for President Trump to fill.

    Since January 2015, Senate Republicans have confirmed only 17 judicial nominees.

    In comparison, from January 2007 to April 2008, Senate Democrats confirmed 45 of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

    The difference is even starker when you consider the circuit courts—the level of our federal courts just below the Supreme Court.

    In fact, with respect to circuit court confirmations, Chairman Grassley has work to do if he doesn’t want the worst record in almost 120 years.

    So far, Chairman Grassley has held hearings on only two circuit court nominees—the last one was ten months ago—and he has not indicated whether he will allow any of the seven pending circuit court nominees to move forward, taking the obstructionist mantra of “No Hearing No Vote” to a whole new level.