January 01, 2019 Profile in Judicial Courage

Judge Thomas Tang

By John W. Rogers

In the early 1980s, I had the privilege of working as a law clerk for Judge Thomas Tang, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1977 until his death in 1995. Judge Tang’s career was full of “firsts”—he was among the first Asian American lawyers admitted to the Arizona bar, the first Asian American to serve on the Phoenix City Council and as vice mayor, the first Asian American state superior court judge, the first Asian American president of the Arizona State Bar, and the first Chinese American ever appointed to the federal court of appeals. While serving as a federal judge, he authored more than 400 opinions and was well-known as a champion of minority and immigrant rights.

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