HRC Blog

California Court Gets Gay Nominee

court scalesMoments ago, President Obama nominated Michael Fitzgerald to serve as a U.S. District Court judge for the Central District of California.  He is the fourth openly-gay nominee that the Administration has put forward to fill seats in our Article III courts.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recommended Fitzgerald’s nomination to the White House after a thorough interview and vetting process by a bipartisan advisory committee.  In response to the nomination, Senator Boxer said, “I am pleased the President has nominated respected Los Angeles attorney Michael W. Fitzgerald to serve as a federal judge for the Central District of California. Michael’s sharp intellect, record of public service and broad legal experience will be a real asset on the federal bench.”

Fitzgerald served as an assistant U.S. attorney in California and has been a trial lawyer for over 20 years.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his law degree from the University of California – Berkeley.  After law school, Fitzgerald served as a law clerk for Judge Irving Kaufman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

On a pro bono basis, Fitzgerald served as trial counsel in a case that challenged the FBI’s policy of viewing gay and lesbian individuals as security threats.  Settlement of this case in 1993 led to the FBI abandoning their discriminatory policy.

In response to his nomination, the President stated, “I am confident he will serve the people of California with distinction on the District Court bench.” This nomination comes on the heels of the Senate voting to confirm Paul Oetken to serve as a judge on the District Court for the Southern District of New York.  He is the first openly gay man to be confirmed to an Article III court.  Alison Nathan, an openly gay woman, has been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and her nomination to serve on the District Court for the Southern District of New York is pending on the floor of the Senate.  Ed DuMont, an openly gay man, is still awaiting a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee to serve as a judge on the Federal Circuit.

Prior to the Obama Administration’s nomination of DuMont, Oetken, Nathan and Fitzgerald, only one openly gay individual had been nominated and confirmed to an Article III court – Judge Deborah Batts, a Clinton nominee.

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