​​​​Senate confirms first out LGBTQ+ woman to serve as federal judge

Beth Robinson applauded by home-state lawmakers and advocacy groups

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 02 November 2021 21:54
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Biden Federal Judges

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The US Senate has voted to confirm the first out LGBTQ+ woman to serve on any federal circuit court.

Beth Robinson was confirmed to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in a 51-45 vote on Monday, with Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joining Democrats to vote in favour.

Ms Robinson, who has served as an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011 received the support of both senators from that state.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy tweeted on Monday: “As an advocate, Beth Robinson has been rightfully hailed as a tireless champion for equal rights and equal justice. But more importantly, her record as a Vermont Supreme Court Justice clearly demonstrates her fairness, impartiality, and loyalty to rule of law, above all else.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party, said following her confirmation: “I know you will make Vermont proud and will be an excellent addition to the federal bench.”

Ms Robinson was nominated by the president, Joe Biden, in August during his sixth round of judicial nominees.

In a statement at the time, the White House underlined the significance of Ms Robinson’s nomination, saying that it helped to fulfill the president’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts “reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds”.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal hailed the confirmation of the judge.

In a statement, Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer for the group, said: “Judge Robinson’s extraordinary professional expertise makes her well qualified for this important position and her confirmation as the first openly lesbian judge to a federal appeals court seat is cause for celebration for our community.”

A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Ms Robinson practised family law, personal injury, employment law, and workers’ compensation, as well as pro bono issues related to advancing LGBTQ+ rights.

At the time of Judge Robinson’s nomination, Mr Biden also nominated Charlotte Sweeney to be the first openly LGBTQ+ federal judge in Colorado and the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve as a federal district court judge in any state west of the Mississippi.

In marked contrast to the previous administration, Mr Biden said 14 per cent of his federal agency appointments identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community, according to a statement marking the beginning of Pride month in June 2021.

He specifically recognised the service of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly LGBTQ+ person confirmed by the Senate to serve in the Cabinet, and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person confirmed by the Senate.

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