HRC Blog

White House Nominates Oetken to Federal Bench

This week, upon recommendation by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), President Obama nominated Paul Oetken to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Oetken is the third openly LGBT individual nominated by the Obama Administration to the federal bench.  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, was the first and is still the only openly LGBT individual to be appointed to an Article III federal court. Oetken’s distinguished accomplishments and wide range of legal and professional experiences would make him an asset on the federal bench. He is currently Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Cablevision Systems Corporation, where he oversees the company’s litigation and employment law matters. Prior to joining Cablevision, Oetken practiced law at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, where, in addition to his work on international arbitration, commercial litigation and class actions, Oetken co-authored Supreme Court amicus briefs in Lawrence v. Texas and Rumsfeld v. Padilla.

Additionally, Oetken has taught employment discrimination law as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School. Oetken served for four years in the Clinton Administration, first as an attorney in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and then as Associate Counsel to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office. Upon graduating from Yale Law School, Oetken held three prestigious clerkships before joining Jenner & Block as an Associate. Oetken clerked for Judge Richard Cudahy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Judge Louis Oberdorfer on the District Court for the District of Columbia, and finally Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to Oetken’s nomination, the President nominated two other openly LGBT individuals for positions on the federal bench. 

Associate Judge Marisa Demeo was confirmed to serve on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in April 2010.  Additionally, Ed DuMont was nominated in April 2010 to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  DuMont is still awaiting a Senate hearing and confirmation.  HRC has actively supported and advocated on the behalf of each of these judicial nominees.

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