Obama Nominates Gay Chinese-American to Federal Judgeship

President Obama today nominated out gay federal prosecutor Pamela Chen to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

seal.gifIf confirmed, Chen would become the second female Chinese-American in history and one of only a few out lesbians to hold one of the country’s 900 lifetime federal judgeship appointments.

Obama praised Chen in his nomination for her work as an attorney in New York.

“I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in a statement. “Pamela Chen has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chen is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Georgetown Law School. Since 1998, Chen has served as assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. In 2008, she served four months as deputy commissioner for enforcement for the New York State Division of Human Rights, having worked as a civil rights attorney earlier in her career.

Pamela ChenNew York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) recommended Chen earlier this week, praising her intellect and even-handedness.

“Ms. Chen is a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Her leadership skills, her commitment to justice, and her extensive experience make her an fantastic choice for a position on the Eastern District Court,” Schumer said.

This is Obama’s fifth nomination of an out gay person to an Article III federal judgeship, three of which have been confirmed. The fourth, Edward DuMont, asked that his nomination be withdrawn in November 2011 after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked his nomination for 18 months. He would have been the first out gay judge to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Chen’s nomination now heads to the Senate for confirmation.

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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