Today Barack Obama nominated his first openly gay African-American judicial nominee for the federal courts.
Judge William L. Thomas has been put forth for consideration for the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He’s one of seven judges nominated today and, if confirmed will be the second out African-American judge on the federal bench.
“These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system,” President Obama said in a statement. “They also represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves.”
Judge William L. Thomas has served as a Circuit Judge in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2005, presiding over both civil and criminal matters. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Florida, representing underprivileged clients in criminal cases. He received his B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College in 1991 and his J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 1994.
Thomas is the eighth out judge nominated to the federal bench by Obama, but the first African-American. Only three of those nominees have been confirmed. Edward DuMont withdrew his name after waiting a year-and-a-half for his first nomination hearing.
“Today’s announcement… reflects the President’s historic commitment to advancing a diverse judiciary that looks like America,” Nancy Zirkin of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement. “If confirmed, these nominees would bring more women, minorities, and openly gay judges to courts to better reflect the nation they serve.”
If Thomas and the other nominees are confirmed, they could also help resolve the crisis caused by more than 100 judicial vacancies across the country. C’mon, Congress, get to it!