Biden appoints two lesbian judges to federal courts

Thu. August 5, 2021 5:55 PM by Gerald Farinas

photo credit // tingey injury law firm

Robinson and Sweeney will be first LGBTQ women as circuit court judge and district court judge

President Joe Biden is keeping a campaign promise, appointing LGBTQ judges to the federal court system.

Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson is nominated to be the first out lesbian person to serve on any federal circuit court, the appeals court where cases land before being allowed to advance to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is a seven-judge panel in Manhattan that serves New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Before assuming a seat on the Vermont Supreme Court, Robinson was co-counsel in the Baker v. State decision in 1999. The landmark ruling made Vermont the first state to adopt civil unions for same-sex couples.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a sponsor of her nomination to the appeals court.

"Beth's successes provided a blueprint for advocates in other states to achieve more equality across the country," the senator said.

"Beth has widely and rightfully been hailed as one of our nation's most important pioneers for LGBTQ rights."

Charlotte Sweeney, an employment law partner in Denver, Co., is nominated for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. It is the main federal trial court, both criminal and civil, in the state. 

Sweeney would be the first out lesbian in the District Courts west of the Mississippi River.

Since 2016, she has served on the board of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an LGBTQ anti-violence and anti-bullying organization.

Robinson and Sweeney would need approval of the Senate to take their judgeships. Both would be seated to their respective roles for life.

President Biden also nominated Marky Katherine Dimke to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, and John P. Howard III to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

This is President Biden's sixth round of names for federal judicial positions, bringing the numbers of announced federal judicial nominees to 35.

"President Biden has spent decades committed to strengthening the federal bench, which is why he continues to move at an unparalleled speed with respect to judicial nominations," the White House said in a statement.

"His first judicial nominations announcement was made faster than that of any new president in modern American history."