It is no surprise that the Vietnamese-American community has always been affiliated with political activism. Despite the diverse political parties and organizations that our community is aligned to, politics has always been deeply rooted in our culture, thus enriching our community to be both politically conscious and aware. As a result, the Vietnamese American community is no longer perceived as a historical remnant of the Vietnam War but rather a community that is filled with activists making a name for themselves in all areas of the political spectrum.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen is a prime example of someone who is part of the on growing political movement in our community. On September 23, 2011, Judge Jacqueline Nguyen was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Judge of Federal District Court of California’s Central District to an open seat on the 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals. This is certainly a monumental step in marking the Vietnamese people as a huge benefactor within the walls of politics.
But prior to her nomination on the federal bench, Judge Jacqueline Nguyen was just like many Vietnamese Americans during the post-Vietnam War era. Jacqueline Nguyen, a.k.a Hong-Ngoc Thi Nguyen, was born in Dalat, Vietnam. At the age of 10, Nguyen fled her home country during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. She and her family were stationed in a refugee camp in San Diego County for a full month until finally moving into Los Angeles County. In her application for a position on the 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, Nguyen wrote, “I nevertheless feel incredibly fortunate because those early years gave me invaluable life lessons that have shaped who I am today.”
Like many Vietnamese family owned businesses, Nguyen’s parents raised their families by operating a donut shop in North Hollywood, California–in which Nguyen help ran the business all the way through her high school and college years. Nguyen later than got accepted to Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1981 (around the time President Obama left the campus) and received her Bachelor Degree in English. She later than enrolled at UCLA School of Law and received her law degree.
After her university years, Nguyen took on her first professional job as a lawyer for a private law firm that dealt with civil litigation, specifically commercial and property disputes.
However, it was not until October 2009 that she received her big break as a federal Judge serving in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Here she continued working as a judge and later was appointed a position on the federal bench, making her the first Vietnamese-American federal judge. She was later nominated by Obama to take position on the 9th Circuit. But how exactly is the 9th Circuit ranked in terms of the hierarchy of the court system?
The 9th Circuit is categorized under federal appellate court, meaning it is the second highest ranked court. Essentially, Nguyen is just one notch away from the Supreme court. In any case, I do hope Nguyen does get appointed for the position. If she does get selected, this will mark her not only just the first Vietnamese-American federal judge of the 9th Circuit but rather the first Asian American ever. Congratulations Nguyen!