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Openly Gay Trump Nominee Confirmed to Ninth Circuit

Dec. 10, 2019, 7:47 PM

The Senate Dec. 10 confirmed to the nation’s largest federal appeals court an openly gay prosecutor who aided efforts to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and consulted on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance Southern border policy.

Patrick Bumatay was confirmed 53-40 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Justice Department lawyer Lawrence VanDyke is also being considered this week for a seat on that court.

The Republican-led Senate is in an all-out push to confirm more judges. It cleared eight district nominees last week, bringing the total of Trump appointments to district and circuit courts with Bumatay to 171. That total includes Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the high court. Trump previously said he aims to have 183 federal judges appointed by the end of the year.

As openly gay and a Filipino-American, Bumatay brings more diversity to Trump’s roster of mostly straight, white judicial appointees.

Trump nominated Bumatay to judicial posts on two other occasions: First to the Ninth Circuit and later to a federal district court in California. The Senate didn’t act on either. He was officially renominated to the California-based appeals court in October.

Bumatay is an assistant U.S. attorney in Southern California. His primary experience is in the Justice Department, but he previously worked in private practice at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand, Iason & Anello and clerked for federal judges on the Eastern District of New York and the Tenth Circuit. Bumatay also volunteered for President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign for president, and was later a staff assistant and paralegal in the Bush White House.

Those opposed to Bumatay’s nomination say his lack of judicial experience and involvement in the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies, make him unqualified for the lifetime appointment. His supporters say criticisms by Democrats are unfair and hypocritical.

Bumatay received a unanimous “Qualified” rating by the panel of the American Bar Association that reviews judicial nominees.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at