Effort under way to block lesbian judge's nomination

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 11 2003 1:00 AM ET

A Republican state senator in Maryland has launched an effort to block a Baltimore judge's appointment to the bench because he believes she lied about her sexual orientation on an application for military service in the 1980s. Sen. Alex Mooney said Friday that he does not oppose the nomination of out lesbian judge Halee Weinstein because of her homosexuality but because he believes she must have lied on an Army application requiring her to declare her sexual orientation. Weinstein applied to serve in the military in the 1980s, prior to the enactment of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. She was appointed to the Baltimore city district court last August by former governor Parris Glendening. "The law is the law, the law is passed by the government, and she decided to lie on her forms," said Mooney, one of the senate's most conservative members. "As a judge she is going to be sitting over people that falsify documents. It's an ethical question." The state senate must confirm the appointment. Weinstein attended Friday's senate session but would not comment on Mooney's allegations.

Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich said he supports Weinstein's nomination and would ask Mooney to drop his plans to block it. The governor said the postponement is "a short-term issue. We'll be able to get to 'yes' on that one pretty quickly. I would like to get that issue settled." The governor said his bottom line is whether the nominee meets his standards: "Does the person have the right judicial temperament? Does the person want to go to the bench for the right reason, in order to interpret the law, not to create the law?" Ehrlich added that he believes Weinstein meets those criteria.

Other supporters of Weinstein said she has served with distinction on the bench since her appointment in July. "I consider her a fair judge who is acquitting herself well on the bench," said chief district judge James N. Vaughan. "I sincerely hope she is confirmed by the senate." A former assistant state's attorney, Weinstein was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army before her discharge in 1986.

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