Kenneth K. Lee

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Kenneth K. Lee
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
June 12, 2019
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byStephen Reinhardt
Personal details
Kenneth Kiyul Lee

1975 (age 43–44)
Seoul, South Korea
EducationCornell University (AB)
Harvard Law School (JD)

Kenneth Kiyul Lee (born 1975) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

A Korean immigrant, Lee earned his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Cornell University in 1997, and his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2000. After graduating from law school, Lee served as a law clerk to Judge Emilio M. Garza of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Lee then worked as an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and was an Associate White House Counsel to George W. Bush. He also served as special counsel on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. After leaving government service, Lee joined the Los Angeles office of the law firm Jenner & Block, where he is currently a partner.[1] He has also served as adjunct faculty member at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Lee has litigated consumer class action lawsuits across the U.S. in the food, technology, and healthcare sectors. He has argued appeals before a number of federal circuit courts. In his pro bono practice, Lee has represented a number of indigent and incarcerated individuals. He is a member of the Food Law Committee of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California.[2] In 2018, Lee was named one of the "Most Influential Minority Attorneys" by the Los Angeles Business Journal.[3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On October 10, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Lee to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1] Both California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris announced their opposition to his nomination.[4] On November 13, 2018, his nomination was sent to the Senate. President Trump nominated Lee to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who died on March 29, 2018.[5]

On January 3, 2019, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.

On January 30, 2019, President Trump indicated that he would renominate Lee to a Ninth Circuit vacancy.[6] On February 6, 2019, his nomination was sent to the Senate.[7] On March 13, 2019, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[8] During the hearing, he was questioned about college writings covering AIDS, political correctness, and feminism. He apologized for the writings, saying he regretted them and was embarrassed by them.[9] On April 4, 2019, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 12–10 party line vote.[10] On May 14, 2019, the Senate invoked cloture on his nomination by a vote of 50–45.[11] On May 15, 2019, the Senate confirmed his nomination by a vote of 52–45.[12] He received his judicial commission on June 12, 2019. Lee is the nation's first Article III judge who was born in the Republic of Korea and the third Korean American to serve on the Ninth Circuit.[13][14]


Lee is listed as an expert for The Federalist Society and has been a Federalist Society speaker and panelist on the topics of Food & Drug Law, Class Actions, and the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.[2]


  1. ^ a b "President Donald J. Trump Announces Eighteenth Wave of Judicial Nominees, Eighteenth Wave of United States Attorney Nominees, and Thirteenth Wave of United States Marshal Nominees". October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 10, 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b Severino, Carrie (October 10, 2018). "Who is Ken Lee?". National Review. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "Most Influential Minority Attorneys: Kenneth K. Lee". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Wire, Sarah D. (October 11, 2018). "California senators will try to block White House judicial nominees for the 9th Circuit - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  5. ^ "Twenty Six Nominations Sent to the Senate", White House, November 13, 2018
  6. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Judicial Nominees". The White House. January 30, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  7. ^ "Twelve Nominations Sent to the Senate", The White House, February 6, 2019
  8. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Nominations for March 13, 2019
  9. ^ Levine, Marianne (March 13, 2019). "Trump judicial pick expresses regret for college writings". Politico. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  10. ^ Results of Executive Business Meeting – April 4, 2019, Senate Judiciary Committee
  11. ^ Roll Call Vote 116th Congress - 1st Session United States Senate Vote Summary: Vote Number 109, United States Senate, May 14, 2019
  12. ^ Roll Call Vote 116th Congress - 1st Session United States Senate Vote Summary: Vote Number 110, United States Senate, May 15, 2019
  13. ^ Tae-hee, Lee (December 11, 2018). "Korean-American judges gaining presence in US". The Korea Herald. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "Senate Confirms L.A. Attorney Kenneth Kiyul Lee to Seat on Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals", United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, May 15, 2019

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Stephen Reinhardt
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit