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Out Lesbian Alison Nathan Confirmed to Serve as Federal Judge

Out Lesbian Alison Nathan Confirmed to Serve as Federal Judge

The U.S. Senate confirmed Alison Nathan to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in a 48 to 44 vote on Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Alison Nathan to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in a 48 to 44 vote on Thursday afternoon.

Nathan becomes the second of four openly gay appointees from President Barack Obama to be confirmed to the federal bench. In July, the Senate confirmed J. Paul Oetken to the Southern District of New York.

“The President welcomes the confirmation of Alison Nathan,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement. “She will serve the American people well from the District Court bench.”

Immediately prior to the vote, Republicans including Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama spoke against the confirmation of Nathan. Senator Sessions warned that she could be an “activist judge” lacking experience and having a propensity to rely on foreign law.

Nathan was defended on the floor by Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The Democratic lawmaker had recommended that President Obama nominate her and Oetken to the bench.

The Human Rights Campaign hailed the confirmation of Nathan in a statement from the group’s president, Joe Solmonese.

“We commend the Senate for their important vote today, confirming Alison Nathan to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” he said. “Ms. Nathan’s demonstrated intellect and dedication to public service is a model of achievement. She will join Judges Deborah Batts and Paul Oetken in the Southern District of New York as the only openly lesbian or gay federal judges. We look forward to the day when the makeup of the entire federal bench truly represents the diverse American public.”


Nathan currently serves as counselor to the New York State Solicitor General. A graduate of Cornell Law School, she served as a special assistant to President Obama and clerked for retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She and her partner, law professor Meg Satterthwaite, have young twin sons.

Michael Fitzpatrick, an openly gay Obama nominee for the federal district court in Los Angeles, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month and could receive a confirmation vote soon. Another nominee, Edward DuMont, has yet to receive a committee hearing.

 

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Julie Bolcer