Senate confirms Chen to federal bench

The U.S. Senate, by voice vote on Monday (March 4), confirmed the nomination of lesbian Pamela Chen to serve on the U.S. District Court bench for the Eastern District of New York.

Chen, a native of Chicago working as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, was originally nominated in August and appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. 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.

She began her legal career in 1986 as an associate litigator with the Washington, D.C., office of Arnold & Porter. She worked in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1991 to 1997, and then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Chen became Chief of that office’s Civil Rights Litigation Unit in 2003, working on both civil and criminal cases, including those involving hate crimes and human trafficking. She became Deputy Commission for Enforcement of the New York State Division of Human Rights in 2008.

According to materials submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chen was born in 1961 and graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown University Law School.

Last month, the president nominated Department of Justice attorney Todd Hughes to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Hughes became the ninth openly gay nominee to a federal bench seat named by President Obama. With Chen, four of those have now been confirmed, four are still pending, and one withdrew after being blocked by Republican opposition.

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