Lesbian judicial nominee gets confirmation hearing Wednesday

Lesbian federal court nominee Alison Nathan will have her confirmation hearing Wednesday, June 8.

President Obama nominated Nathan March 31 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for Southern New York, which covers Manhattan.

In the questionnaire Nathan completed for the Senate Judiciary Committee, she noted that she, as an attorney at the Wilmer Cutler, Pickering Hale and Dorr law firm, she represented several “national civil rights organizations” in a challenge to a military law prohibiting private consensual sodomy. The challenge came after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down state laws prohibiting private consensual sex between same-sex partners, in Lawrence v. Texas. Nathan said she developed the firm’s pro bono legal strategy, arguments, and the drafting of briefs. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, she noted, adopted “significant components” of WilmerHale’s argument that the Lawrence ruling applied to the military. Nathan did not specify which groups her law firm represented, but court records indicate they included the ACLU, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Nathan served as a White House counsel before taking a position as special counsel to New York State’s solicitor general. She also served as a law clerk to now retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and is a former assistant professor of law at Fordham University.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in April recommended the confirmation of openly gay nominee Paul Oetken. Like Nathan, Oetken has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for Manhattan. Meanwhile, the nomination of openly gay nominee Edward DuMont to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit continues to see no action. President Obama nominated DuMont for the position in April 2010 but the Senate Judiciary Committee has not scheduled him for a hearing. Liberal 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, who was originally nominated in February 2010, recently withdrew his nomination after the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster against the nomination.

Nathan’s hearing Wednesday begins at 2:30 EDT.

Leave a Reply