News Releases

Senator Murray Secures Historic Senate Confirmation of Civil Rights Attorney and Former Public Defender Tana Lin to Federal Bench 

Lin will be the first former public defender and the first Asian American to serve as a federal judge in Washington state 

Senator Murray: “Americans deserve a justice system that will uphold the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected, and building a more fair and just court system starts by appointing more public defenders and more civil rights lawyers—like Ms. Lin—as judges.” 

*** Photos of Senator Murray and Ms. Lin are HERE*** 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) hailed the Senate’s confirmation of civil rights attorney and former public defender Tana Lin by a vote of 52-45. Ms. Lin was nominated by President Joe Biden for a lifetime appointment as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington to serve from the Seattle courthouse at the recommendation of Senator Murray. Lin’s historic confirmation comes after Senator Murray has secured the recent confirmations of Lauren King, a tribal law expert who is serving as Washington state’s first ever Native American federal Judge, and David Estudillo, the son of Mexican immigrants and a former immigration attorney.

“Tana Lin has led a tremendous career fighting for civil and human rights for years now and I am proud to have recommended her to President Biden. Ms. Lin will be the first ever former public defender and the first Asian American serving as a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington state. I believe it matters a great deal whether or not a federal judge has represented clients who couldn’t afford to hire their own lawyer and whether or not they reflect the communities they represent,” said Senator Murray. “Americans deserve a justice system that will uphold the rights of everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected, and building a more fair and just court system starts by appointing more public defenders and more civil rights lawyers—like Ms. Lin—as judges.”

Senator Murray recommended Ms. Lin to the Biden-Harris administration in early 2021 after her name was submitted to the Senator for consideration by Murray’s judicial merit selection committee. Senator Murray has pushed highly qualified candidates with an emphasis on demographic and professional diversity to help create a more fair and representative federal bench. Senator Murray’s judicial merit selection committee has been lauded as a model for other Senators to consider and was also recently highlighted by the House Judiciary Committee.

“Tana Lin brings invaluable professional and lived experience to the bench. Her impressive resume includes extensive experience fighting employment discrimination and defending the civil rights of working people and consumers. In a long-overdue historic first, she is now the first Asian American judge in the Western District of Washington. We applaud Senator Murray for selecting and confirming her for this important seat. Lin's confirmation moves our courts closer to reflecting the vast diversity of our nation and providing equal justice,” said Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“With a lifetime of dedicated public service as a poverty lawyer, a public defender, and a federal civil rights lawyer, Tana Lin is exactly the kind of person we need on the federal bench. She is deeply committed to the principal of equal justice for all, not just the wealthy and the powerful. The people of Washington—including workers, consumers, women, people of color, and the poor—will benefit from Lin’s tenure on the bench for decades to come. Senator Murray should be commended for the remarkable job she has done in identifying exemplary people like Tana Lin for such crucial judicial vacancies. Lin will make us all proud,” said Rakim Brooks, President of the Alliance for Justice.

Tana Lin is Of Counsel at Keller Rohrback L.L.P. in Seattle where she practices in the complex litigation group, working to vindicate the rights of employees, consumers, and shareholders. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Washington. She has also served as a cooperating attorney for the ACLU, successfully challenging the Trump Administration’s travel ban, obtaining a nationwide injunction preventing the Administration from enforcing the policy with regard to refugees, and settling the case favorably for her clients in February 2020. In other pro bono activities, Ms. Lin has worked with Columbia Legal Services and the Lawyers Fostering Independence Program.

Ms. Lin began her career at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. She then became a trial attorney in the Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Ms. Lin continued her work enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the Chicago District Office of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She then spent three years on a range of equal justice projects at the Michigan Poverty Law Program before moving to Seattle and joining Keller Rohrback.

A Chinese-American, Ms. Lin immigrated from Taiwan when she was three years old, speaking only Mandarin at home before she enrolled in school. She attended Cornell University and New York University School of Law, working multiple jobs during both college and law school. Ms. Lin will be the first Asian American appointed to be a federal judge in either district of Washington state.

Read more about Ms. Lin’s nomination HERE.