Post submitted by Alice Curtin, HRC law fellow
Today, two openly gay judicial nominees, Michael J. McShane and Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, faced confirmation hearings before the Senate. The hearing marked a historic first, as two openly gay judicial nominees have never been considered during the same committee hearing. In fact, prior to the Obama administration, the United States had seen only one openly gay individual confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on the Federal Judiciary.
Judge Quiñones Alejandro and Judge McShane testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee along with three other nominees. They enjoyed a number of supportive statements from the senators in attendance. Senator Casey (D-PA) said he had “no doubt” that Judge Quiñones Alejandro would “serve with distinction on the federal bench.” Senators Wyden (D-OR.) and Merkley (D-OR) both noted Judge McShane’s extensive professional qualifications and his commitment to community service.
Judge McShane has been nominated to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of Oregon and Judge Quiñones Alejandro has been nominated to be a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Notably, they are not the only openly gay judicial nominees who have been appointed to the federal bench and are awaiting confirmation. Judge William Thomas has been nominated to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida. Pamela Chen has been nominated to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, and last Thursday, Todd Hughes was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals.
If confirmed, the appointments of Judge Quiñones Alejandro and Judge McShane would bring the total number of openly gay judges with lifetime tenure on the federal bench to five.