- The Magazine
In a pair of historic firsts, President Joe Biden has nominated two out LGBTQ women to the federal bench, with one being nominated to a federal circuit court of appeals, and the other to a position on a federal district court.
Biden nominated Beth Robinson, currently a Vermont State Supreme Court Justice and the first out LGBTQ person to hold that position, to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Robinson would be the first out woman to serve on any federal circuit court.
Biden also nominated Charlotte Sweeney, a partner at the Denver-based law firm Sweeney & Bechtold, LCC, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. If confirmed, Sweeney would be the first out federal judge in Colorado and first out woman to serve as a federal district court judge in any state west of the Mississippi.
Robinson and Sweeney bring the total number of federal judicial nominees tapped by Biden to 35, according to a news release from the White House.
The White House touted the women’s nominations, among others, saying they “continue 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.”
Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont State Supreme Court since 2011, previously served as counsel to former Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), and worked as a civil litigator, focusing on cases involving employment law, workers’ compensation, contract disputes, and family law. She also represented LGBTQ+ individuals in civil rights cases, including leading the freedom to marry movement in Vermont. A graduate of Dartmouth University and the University of Chicago Law School, she also clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1990.
Sweeney, a practicing lawyer since 1995, has focused much of her career representing individuals in employment law cases. She is a graduate of California Lutheran University and the University of Denver College of Law.
Zeke Stokes, a consultant for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD and the president of ZS Strategies, praised the nominations of both women to the federal bench.
“Without comprehensive federal protections, the courts remain a lifeline to LGBTQ people when it comes to ensuring that we are treated equally under the law,” Stokes said in a statement. “President Biden is moving swiftly to nominate judges to the federal bench who represent a diverse cross section of Americans and support full LGBTQ equality, including two historic LGBTQ nominations today. The U.S. Senate must now move expeditiously to confirm these highly qualified candidates.”
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