Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Gay Federal Judge Nomination

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, Ehrman, 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

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  • Dan

    Not to point out what should be obvious: in the USA it is a legal system, not a justice system. If the U.S. legal system was indeed about justice, so many U.S. politicians wouldn’t have built their careers violating the human rights of millions of Americans; the difference between the U.S. legal system and actual justice is so great in nearly all of the USA as to make the two complete opposites.

  • the crustybastard

    Michael Fitzgerald was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, paving the way for about 10 thousand people to make an “…and Gerald Fitzmichael” joke.

    Let me be the first.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Dan: While I tend to agree with your sentiment, your comment reminds me of Churchill’s remark “Democracy is the WORST form of government; except for all other forms.”

    Is there a system of justice that guarantees justice, or are all legal systems inherent with human flaws?

  • [email protected]

    At the risk of giving the Bots a seizure, note that AntiChrist Bill Clinton appointed the first out gay judge, Deborah Batts, 17 years ago. And, re that FBI case, he issued an Executive Order in 1995 banning denial of security clearances to gays.

  • Dan

    We do not live in a pure democracy; we live in a constitutional democracy (republic) with many (not all) corrupt politicians and judges.

    In a pure democracy, you could get together with your friends and neighbors at any time and simply vote on the punishment for any politician who violated your human rights; thus swiftly eliminating any politician who would arrogantly dare to base their career violating the human rights of millions of Americans.

    Instead, constitutions in the USA that should protect human rights of all get hobbled into majoritarian instruments that provide human rights protection only for some. Government “of the people, for the people, by the people” perishes and becomes swiftly government “of some of the people, for some of thet people, by some of the people.”

    The Founders made it a constitutional democracy (republic) to slow down its inevitable dissolution; they said so. John Adams said it best “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

    Americans have been so swift to remove the most basic checks and balances from the rule of law like equal protection under law, and most cannot even explain why an as-independent-as-you-can-make-it judicial branch is necessary to make any constitution even meaningful.

  • James


    Eloquent. Terse. True.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Dan: I’m not disagreeing with you, I am asking what is the better solution? Certainly, as perhaps the most significant rebel leader for promoting a new independent government, Adams fully understood that democracy could only serve the vast size of population and geography through a representative form. When Adams offered his remark you quoted, he himself had already been an appointed by legislature representative, and president of a republic. Adams was including the form of a democratic republic he himself advocated for and helped develop.

    But what other form is better?

    (When mixing quotes from different eras, probably should credit Lincoln for the concluding sentence from the Gettysburg Address.)

    While Lincoln stands tall for his defense of the Union and ending slavery, don’t forget his flaws too, it was Lincoln who, unconstitutionally, suspended Habeas Corpus, allowing the government to arrest and detain anyone the government suspected of being committing sedition. He also kept troops from states not inclined to reelect him on the battlefields while troops from state supporting him returned home for the 1864 election.

    Lincoln blamed the Civil War on Adams and Jefferson, in particular, for not fulfilling the grand pronouncement that “all men are created equal”. By playing politics at the time of the movement for independence, allowing slavery to continue, Lincoln believed that the founders condemned the following generation to the Civil War.

    So, again, what is a better system that would ensure a truer justice system?

  • Mike in Asheville

    I guess I should add that I am pleased to see that sexual orientation, or actually, not different from being straight, is becoming a lesser and lesser impediment for gays and lesbians. Yes a long, very long, way to go, but this too is getting better. And that’s a good thing.

Comments are closed.