Two More Out Gay Judicial Nominees Await Confirmation Votes

Openly Gay Judicial Nominees Allison Nathan & Edward DuMont and Judge Paul Oetken

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed the first openly gay man to be nominated for a federal judgeship — newly minted federal District Judge Paul Oetken. By even receiving a confirmation vote, Oetken joined an exceptionally elite club. Senate Republicans have waged such a successful war of obstruction against President Obama’s nominees that the body is currently confirming judges at just over half the rate under Obama’s two predecessors.

Two other openly gay nominees, however, have yet to win the confirmation lottery.:

  • Alison Nathan: Nathan, a nominee to a federal judgeship in New York City, is a former law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens who received the near unanimous endorsement of her fellow clerks from her year on the Court, including “all of the Thomas, Scalia, Rehnquist and Kennedy clerks that Term who are not presently in government service.” Nevertheless, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made two cases against Nathan. He repeated the right’s increasingly tiresome case against judges citing to 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.
  • Edward DuMont: DuMont is the first openly gay nominee to a United States Court of Appeals, and President Obama originally nominated him more than a year ago. Nevertheless, he has yet to receive a judiciary committee hearing. These delays are particularly odd because DuMont is nominated to the Federal Circuit, a specialized court which deals mostly with patent law. Intellectual property questions are certainly important, but they are hardly the kind of hyper-controversial issues that justify these kinds of delays.

There are simply no good reasons why these nominees should not receive a swift and overwhelmingly favorable confirmation vote. Sadly, however, Senate Republicans are better than anyone at coming up with bad reasons.