Second gay appeals nominee named

President Obama has once again nominated an openly gay man to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The president nominated Department of Justice attorney Todd Hughes to serve on the appeals court. Hughes has worked as deputy director of the DOJ Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch since 2007.

Hughes graduated from Harvard in 1989 and from Duke University Law School in 1992

In April 2010, President Obama became the first president to name an openly gay person to a federal appeals court. He named Washington attorney Ed DuMont to the Federal Circuit appeals court. But Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked DuMont’s nomination from advancing even to a hearing and DuMont withdrew his nomination in November 2011. He clerked for Robert Krupansky, a Reagan appointee on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and then began working in the DOJ’s Commercial branch and has extensive experience in front of the Federal Circuit.

Hughes’ nomination marks the ninth openly LGBT person President Obama has nominated to the federal judicial bench. Three were confirmed in 2011, five are still pending, and one withdrew after being blocked by Republican opposition.

            Last month, President Obama re-nominated four other openly gay attorneys to the federal bench. They include:

Pamela Chen, a native of Chicago working as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. Chen was originally nominated in August to U.S. District Court for Eastern New York. The American Bar Association committee on nominees unanimously voted her qualified. Her resume to the Committee indicates she is a member of the National LGBT Bar Association;

William Thomas, a native of Pennsylvania now working in Miami, was originally nominated in November for U.S. District Court for Southern District of Florida. A majority of the ABA committee voted him to be well qualified. An openly gay African American, Thomas was recommended by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund’s Presidential Appointments Project.

Nitza Quinones Ajejandro, who would be the first openly gay Hispanic woman to serve on the federal bench, was originally nominated in November for U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A substantial majority of the ABA committee considers her qualified.

And Michael McShane, a native of Pittsburgh working as a state circuit court judge in Portland, Oregon, was nominated last September to U.S. District Court for Oregon. A majority of the ABA committee voted him to be qualified. He is a member of the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association and served for four years on an HIV Services Planning Council.

There are 874 federal bench seats nationally, according to the U.S. Courts website. If the current pending nominees are confirmed, the total number of openly gay federal judges will stand at eight.

U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts took senior status from her position last April. Emily Hewitt is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a separate federal court with 16 judges who hear primarily money claims and matters involving executive regulations and contracts involving the United States.

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