HRC Blog

Openly-Gay Judicial Nominee Receives Senate Hearing

This afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Paul Oetken to be a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. President Obama nominated Oetken in late January, making Oetken this Administration’s third openly LGBT judicial nominee.  The Senate previously confirmed Marissa Demeo to the D.C. Superior Court and Ed DuMont currently awaits a hearing before the committee. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York chaired the remarkably brief hearing. 

Senator Schumer praised President Obama’s choice of Oetken and cited the historical significance of his nomination. Senator Schumer also highlighted Oetken’s impressive career accomplishments, which include valuable time in the public sector as an attorney to President Clinton, as well as significant experience as counsel to major national corporations. Delaware’s freshman Senator Chris Coons, a law school classmate of Mr. Oetken, also offered a glowing endorsement of Mr. Oetken’s nomination and pledged to speak on the Senate floor in support of his confirmation. Oetken was given a “qualified” rating by the non-partisan American Bar Association. His academic and professional qualifications are documented in his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. 

For more information about Mr. Oetken’s academic and professional record, you can also see our earlier blog on his nomination. The Senate Judiciary Committee must still vote to move Oetken’s nomination to the floor of the Senate. When confirmed, Oetken will join Judge Deborah Batts to become the second openly LGBT judge serving in the Southern District of New York.  Batts, a Clinton nominee in 1994, is considered the first and only openly LGBT individual to have been appointed to an Article III federal court. Special thanks to Jessie Singleton for her help with this blog.

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