Two More Gay Nominees Up for Federal Judgeships: What Bogus Roadblocks Will the GOP Devise?

Despite their claims that Democrats like to confirm “activist” judges, it’s usually Senate Republicans that gum up the works until they can seat jurists who subscribe to their particularly narrow worldview.  Paul Oetken, the openly gay judge who was just confirmed to Federal District court, is one of the few appointees Obama has been able to get approved—Congress is moving at such a snail’s pace, Federal judges are retiring twice as fast as new ones are confirmed.  (You’d almost think the Republicans are more concerned with making sure the Obama Administration fails than about helping their constituents.)

There are two more gay judicial nominees up for confirmation but, at this rate, we’ll see Haley’s Comet again before either zips up their robe.

Alison Nathan, who’s up for a federal judgeship in New York City, is a former Obama White House counsel and clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens. She lives in Manhattan with her partner and their twin sons and is widely respected by her peers, employers and law professors.

Nevertheless, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made two cases against Nathan: He repeated the right’s increasingly tiresome case against judges citing any international legal sources, and he criticized Nathan for filing a brief arguing that death sentences should be carried out more humanely. Nathan did not argue against the death penalty itself—she just argued that maybe states could inflict a little less pain when they kill people. Apparently, that bothered Grassley. [ThinkProgress]

The other out jurist is Edward DuMont, the first openly gay nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, graduated from Stanford Law with distinction and has received numerous awards throughout his 25-year career. President Obama put his name up more than a year ago but a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The hold-up for DuMont’s nomination is the fact that he is openly gay. If approved by the Senate, DuMont would be the only openly gay federal appellate judge and one of only three openly gay federal judges. To date, no federal judicial appointment for an openly gay man has been approved by the Senate. The delay has been entirely behind the scenes and no Senator has been bold enough to publicly announce the ridiculous position that homosexual men should not be allowed to judge patent appeals. [Pantently-O]

Well, it’s pretty logical, right? First we destroy marriage, then we move on to voice-operated toasters and solar-powered toilet-seat warmers!


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  • GayGOP

    So long as these sorts are not the Goodwin Liu, Judges should be politicians type, and are merely just liberals, they should be confirmed. Then again, I follow the old school way of thinking that the President has the right to nominate whom he wishes, and the Senate should examine their qualifications, make sure they are willing to follow their jobs, and then confirm them, if they are. Ideology has no place in these confirmations on either side.

  • delurker


    With that standard, how in the world was an activist partisan hack like Samuel Alito even confirmed to the Supreme Court let alone the Appeals Court?

  • tjr101

    @GayGOP: Hasn’t it always been the GOP mantra of allowing a simple up or down vote for a nominee? Oh right, that only applies when the nominee is a Republican pick!

  • Gregory

    The thing about Alison Nathan – she is extremely qualified intellectually, but her experience as a lawyer is lacking by any reasonable measure. I don’t think she’s ever tried a case. I am certain that she could grow into the role, but I think think Obama (or Schumer) went out on a limb for her. I doubt the other guy will face any opposition. IMHO

  • Sean

    Heaven forbid that qualified legal professionals who happen to be gay are in a federal court!

    “Using the precedent of my gayness…I decree martial law, gays now rule.”

    Why is this childishness still going on? What are they afraid of?

  • delurker

    @Gregory: newsflash: the vast majority of practicing lawyers have never tried a case.

  • the crustybastard


    What delurker said, and adding that the skill-sets of trial attorneys and judges do not particularly overlap and arguably, they are quite the opposite of one another.

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