On Tuesday, the US Senate confirmed Todd Hughes as a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This makes Hughes the highest-ranking openly gay judge in the country. Hughes’ nomination was a unanimous 98-0.
The White House Blog mentioned that there are only seven openly gay federal judges serving currently at the district courts, and all have been nominated by President Obama. In her post, Kathryn Ruemmlar wrote, “Like all of the President’s judicial nominees, Hughes has the intellect, experience, integrity, and temperament to be a successful judge … he is also gay.”
The White House Blog post explains that the United States Courts of Appeals are the second-highest courts in the nation – a level just below the Supreme Court – and there has never been an openly gay judge to serve on a Court of Appeals until now.
The Washington Post reported that Hughes’s friend, Geovette Washington, who is the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget described Hughes as a problem solver who “can do very complicated constitutional issues.” Washington has been friends with Hughes since law school.
Michael Cole-Scwartz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said, “It’s a testament to how far we have come as a country that his sexual orientation is irrelevant to his ability to serve on our nation’s courts.”
The White House Blog post observed that Hughes’s appointment was “yet another ‘first’ among President Obama’s judges … We look forward to the ‘seconds’ and ‘thirds’ who will come after Todd Hughes and his fellow ‘firsts’ currently serving on our courts.”
The post mentioned, the ‘firsts’ included three Hispanic, two Asian American, and one African American – who are ‘firsts’ in their respective courts.