speech gaffes

Daniel Alter’s Chance To Become First Openly Gay Federal Judge Derailed By ‘Merry Christmas’ Greeting

Daniel Alter, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Anti-Defamation League national director, was recommended by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in February to become a new federal judge in his home state, which would’ve made him the first gay federal benchwarmer — but the White House was all “no thanks” after reading some of Alter’s past scribblings, like how store operators should nix the “Merry Christmas” greetings (because they’re too Christian) and how he was happy to see a case involving the words “under God” reach the Supreme Court (which didn’t turn out the way Alter wanted, but left open the possibility for future challenges).

Those published remarks made Alter too much of a wild card for the 60-vote majority needed to get him through Senate confirmations, the White House determined, so there goes his chances.

Schumer announced his support for Alter at a HRC dinner. HRC also backed his potential nomination, with president Joe Solmonese saying at the time, Alter is “eminently qualified for a position on the federal bench.” Asked for comment, HRC spokesflack Fred Sainz suddenly has nothing to say.

As for the ADL, they’re just upset that Alter’s remarks as counsel for the anti-anti-Semitic organization were used to trounce his chances. Oh, and Alter is also upset, for one obvious reason: he says he never made those comments.

[Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights for the Anti-Defamation League] said Alter doesn’t recall speaking to The New Republic for the 2004 article and that Alter was misquoted in the 2005 CNS article. “It was an inaccurate report and ADL should have insisted the record be corrected at the time,” Lauter said. Lauter clarified that the Anti-Defamation League has never objected to retailers wishing customers “Merry Christmas.” “But the bottom line is even if he made the comment, which he didn’t, it shouldn’t have disqualified him from service as a judge,” she said.

And that’s politics for ya. [Washington Blade]