Today, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that he is recommending that President Obama nominate Daniel Alter to serve as a judge in the Southern District federal court of New York. Alter was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, becoming an expert in terrorism and security. He has also served as the National Director of the Civil Rights Division of the Anti-Defamation League. Alter would be a historic pick for Obama, becoming the first openly gay man to be nominated to the federal bench. From Schumer’s statement:
His outstanding leadership skills, his commitment to justice, and his extensive experience make him an exceptional choice for a position on the federal bench. I’m proud to nominate Daniel Alter. Period. But I am equally proud to nominate him because he is a history-maker who will be the first openly gay male judge in American history.
Although Obama chooses his judicial nominees, presidents generally defer to the recommendations of home state senators. In 1994, President Clinton nominated the first LGBT person, Deborah Batts, to serve as a federal judge for the Southern District, where she currently sits. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is currently blocking the nomination of Marisa Demeo, an openly gay Latino woman, to serve on the D.C. Superior Court.