Federal judicial nominee Michael Fitzgerald was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, paving the way for him to become only the fourth openly gay person to serve on the federal court. Fitzgerald, 52, was originally nominated this summer for a post on the U.S. District Court in California by President Obama—who also put up three other LGBT nominees. How long it might Fitzgerald him to get full Senate approval is uncertain, though, as more than 20 judicial nominations were already pending before the committee approved him and several other nominees.
“I am so pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Michael Fitzgerald’s nomination to serve on the federal bench,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who recommended Fitzgerald to Obama. “He is a highly respected attorney whose sharp intellect and experience as a former federal prosecutor and attorney in private practice will make him an outstanding judge. It is now critical that the Senate move swiftly to confirm him so he can begin serving the people of the Central District.”
Fiztgerald graduated from Harvard in 1981 and UC Berkeley Law School in 1985, before clerking for Judge Irving Kaufman on the U.S. Court of Appeals. As a lawyer, he was involved in the settlement of Buttino v. FBI, the 1993 class-action lawsuit involving a gay bureau agent who was involuntarily outed, stripped of his security clearance and fired. It was as a result of this firm winning that case that the FBI stopped viewing homosexuality as a detriment to receiving clearance.
Previously, Fitzgerald has served as an Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles, worked at the Law Offices of Robert L. Corbin PC and at the law firm of Heller, Ehr man, White & McAuliffe, and was a partner at Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey. In his personal life, he volunteered for the 2008 Obama campaign and against California’s Proposition 8.
During Fitzgerald’s vetting process, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) questioned whether Fitzgerald’s working “personally and professionally as an activist in various political and legal causes,” would interfere with his efforts as a judge. (Right, because lawyers and judges are robots that have no personal opinions or causes they care about.)
In response to Lee (at left), Fitzgerald said, “As a judge, I would respect the rule of law, I would respect the court system as a system which is trying to do justice for the litigants in front of it.”
Seriously, can the Republicans put party politics aside for five minutes and approve someone who’s clearly qualified for the position?
Source: Washington Blade