HRC Blog

Former Associate White House Counsel Nominated to Federal Bench

Yesterday, the White House nominated former Associate White House Counsel Alison Nathan for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  She is the fourth openly LGBT individual nominated by the Obama Administration for a judicial appointment.

In a press statement from the White House, President Obama stated, “Alison Nathan is a distinguished individual who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice throughout her career.”   Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) echoed this sentiment in a press statement.  “Through her work in the New York Solicitor General’s Office and the White House, she has proven to be an extremely capable attorney and a dedicated public servant,” he said.  “She is a first-class legal mind who will bring tremendous experience and skill to the bench.”

Nathan’s legal career began as a law clerk to Judge Betty Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  She then went on to clerk for the Honorable John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Following her clerkship, Nathan spent several years in private practice as a litigator before transitioning into academia, where she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.  Nathan left academia to serve as Special Assistant to the President and Associate White House Counsel in the Obama Administration, where she distinguished herself as the legal point person on a host of constitutional, legislative and policy issues.  Since 2010, she has served in the office of the New York Attorney General as special counsel to the Solicitor General.

Nathan has demonstrated a deep commitment to the LGBT community. In law school she served as president of Cornell’s Lambda Law student group.  Additionally, while in law school, she was the recipient of the Uncommon Legacy Foundation Scholarship, which recognized her leadership in the lesbian community.  Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr honored Ms. Nathan with the firm’s Pro Bono Award in 2003 and 2004 for her dedicated and able handling of pro bono matters, including her representation of the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and individual service members in challenges to the military’s criminal prohibition of consensual sodomy and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t’ Tell” law.  During the 2008 presidential campaign, Nathan served as both a senior advisor to the Obama campaign and a member of its LGBT advisory committee.

Nathan joins Paul Oetken and Ed DuMont, also LGBT nominees, in awaiting confirmation by the Senate.  Marisa Demeo was confirmed in 2010 to serve as Associate Judge on the D.C. Superior Court.

Currently, Judge Deborah Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York serves as the first and only openly LGBT individual to be appointed to an Article III federal court.  If confirmed, both Nathan and Oetken would join Judge Batts on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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