The Raben Group is lobbying on behalf of the Asian American Justice Center to advance Asian-American judicial nominees, including Goodwin Liu, whose nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has proven contentious.
Raben Group principal Vincent Eng said the firm is "helping move those judicial nominees forward towards confirmation." Eng, who joined the firm in April, was previously deputy director for the Asian American Justice Center. Although the Raben Group filed a lobbying registration this week, the effective date of registration is April 9.
Karen Narasaki, the center's executive director, said this is the first time her group has hired lobbyists, though it has long worked on advancing the judicial nominations of Asian-American candidates. The number of such nominations has increased under the Obama administration, she said, and "it was becoming a very intense process."
Narasaki said Asian-Americans are underrepresented on the federal bench. Liu's nomination is a priority because the 9th Circuit has a large Asian-American population, and "the fact that there isn't an Asian-American on the 9th Circuit we think is very problematic," she said.
The nominations are "one of our top priorities, which was one of the reasons why we decided to invest much more heavily than we have in the past," Narasaki said. "We felt there was an opportunity because the candidate pool was there, and the commitment from this administration was there."
The Raben Group registration lists senior associates Michelle Martin and Kimberly Goulart as the lobbyists for the center, though Eng said he expects to be added. The second-quarter report showing how much the center paid was not available, but Narasaki said the amount is between $5,000 and $7,500 per month.