Allan Lengel, over at ticklethewire.com, brought to our attention this news release from the office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Yesterday, Schumer announced he is recommending former federal prosecutor Daniel Alter for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Alter, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District, “is a history-making pick, as he is the first openly gay male nominated for the federal court in American history,” Schumer’s release said. (According to our friends over at Above the Law, Judge Deborah Batts, also of New York’s Southern District, is the only openly lesbian federal judge.)
Alter (Columbia, Yale Law) spent six years as an AUSA, specializing in First Amendment matters. He is also an expert on terrorism and national security, having worked on al-Qaeda cases and on the prosecution team for the African embassy bombing trials, the release said.
Here’s what Schumer had to say about Alter:
His outstanding leadership skills, his commitment to justice, and his extensive experience make him an exceptional choice for a position on the federal bench. I’m proud to nominate Daniel Alter. Period. But I am equally proud to nominate him because he is a history-maker who will be the first openly gay male judge in American history.
It should be noted that President Obama nominated an openly lesbian magistrate judge — Marisa Demeo - for a spot on the D.C. Superior Court. (Judges on the District’s local bench are nominated by the president and require Senate confirmation.)
The National Law Journal’s David Ingram reported here [registration required] that Demeo’s nomination has dragged on eight months — longer than any of Obama’s other judicial picks, including his most controversial nominees for federal appellate courts.
Typically, Superior Court nominations chug through the Senate, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told Ingram that he is holding up Demeo’s nomination in his role as chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators.
“A number of Republicans had concerns and asked me, as chairman of Steering, to ask for limited debate and a recorded vote because of a history of very leftist activism,” he said.
DeMint declined to discuss specific criticisms when pressed by Ingram.
“There are just a number of things that don’t look like a fair and balanced approach that you’d like in a judge,” he said.
Ummmm, this article is about twenty years late. Judge Vaughn Walker, the Chief Judge in the Northern District of California, is openly gay and has been a District Court judge since 1989.