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Biden’s New Second Circuit Pick Would Be LGBT First (1)

Aug. 5, 2021, 2:20 PM; Updated: Aug. 5, 2021, 10:30 PM

A Vermont judge who would be the first openly LGBT woman to serve on a federal appeals court is among President Joe Biden’s latest judicial nominees.

Justice Beth Robinson is ticketed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, according to the newest list of judicial nominees released by the White House on Thursday and sent to the Senate. She’s the first openly LGBT judge on the Vermont Supreme Court.

Also on the list was employment lawyer Charlotte Sweeney, who Biden nominated for the District of Colorado. Sweeney would be the first openly LGBT U.S. judge in the state, according to the White House.

The new selections continue the Biden administration’s focus on diversifying the federal courts in terms of demographics and professional background.

The first openly gay federal judge was U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Deborah Batts, who was confirmed in 1994 and died last year.

Biden also nominated Mary Katherine Dimke to the Eastern District of Washington, where she is currently a magistrate judge. The nominations bring his total number of lifetime judicial picks to 33. Of that, eight have been confirmed.

Second Circuit

The latest batch of nominations comes as two other Biden judicial nominees are already progressing in the Senate confirmation process, indicating a prioritization of the New York-based appeals court.

The Senate was expected to vote to end debate on Second Circuit nominee Eunice Lee soon, bringing her one step away from a confirmation vote.

Also, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Second Circuit nominee Myrna Pérez on Thursday, 12-10, despite strong opposition from Republicans.

The court, which has three vacancies, is so far the only one Biden has the opportunity to “flip,” or change from a majority of Republican-appointed judges to a majority Democratic-appointees.

President Donald Trump prioritized filling the circuit courts, and at one point had filled every seat, which left Biden with fewer opportunities to make an impact at that level.

The Second Circuit—which encompasses New York, Connecticut and Vermont—is a chief venue for cases involving corporations and Wall Street.

The court community has experienced heartache recently after two of its judges retired and died shortly thereafter. Robert Katzmann took senior status, a form of semi-retirement, in January after Biden’s inauguration and died in June. Peter Hall took senior status in March and died the following week.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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