Metro Weekly

Obama Federal Appeals Court nominee could be a gay first

President Barack Obama nominated two justices to the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today, including one who could become the country’s first out gay appeals court judge.

Thumbnail image for Obama Official.jpgObama announced his nomination of Todd M. Hughes, who currently serves as deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice and is a graduate of Harvard College and Duke University. According to the White House, Hughes’s career with the Justice Department has focused on federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts and jurisdictional issues regarding the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  

“Raymond T. Chen and Todd M. Hughes have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers,” Obama said in a statement announcing today’s two nominations. “I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals. I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the Federal Circuit.” 

Obama has nominated a number of gay judges, but Hughes, if confirmed, would mark a historic first.

“If confirmed, Todd Hughes would become the first openly gay federal appeals court judge in U.S. history,” said Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe in a statement. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has helped secure a number of nominations through the Presidential Appointment Project.

“His nomination is a testament to the expanding opportunities for openly LGBT Americans who want to serve their country, and to the president’s respect for the depth of talent and experience within the LGBT community,” Wolfe added. “We look forward to his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.”

Hughes is Obama’s second nomination of an out gay person to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In April 2010, Obama nominated Edward DuMont, who eventually withdrew his nomination after waiting more than 18 months for a committee hearing. Democrats and Republicans pointed fingers at each other for the delay, with Democrats blaming Republicans for holding up the hearings and Republicans countering that Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) could have called for a hearing at any time.

[Photo: Barack Obama official portrait (Courtesy of the White House).]

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.