Previously, Nguyen had made history as the first Vietnamese-American federal judge when she was approved by the United States Senate on December 1, 2009 by a vote of 97-0. Nguyen graduated with a degree in English literature from Occidental College in 1987, followed by a degree from UCLA Law School in 1991. Barack Obama attended Occidental College as well from 1979-1981 before transferring to Columbia University.
The muted debate over the approval of the Nguyen nomination is in stark contrast to the protracted and vituperative debate over the nomination of U.C. Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu to the same bench last year, which ultimately ended in Liu asking the President to withdraw his nomination to the 9th Circuit after a successful Republican-led filibuster and subsequent nomination and confirmation to the California Supreme Court.
It should be noted that there are no Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander descent on the U.S. Supreme Court, despite the fact they make up 5.6% of the population, according to the 2010 Census. All but one of the nine current members of the Court were a federal appellate judge prior to their elevation to the nation's highest court.