Obama Nominates Out Lesbian for Federal Judgeship

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com August 01 2012 4:53 PM ET

UPDATED: President Obama has taken Sen. Charles Schumer's recommendation and nominated Pamela Ki Mai Chen to a federal judgeship. “I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench,” the president said in a statement.  “Pamela Chen has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction.” Read more about Chen below.

-----

U.S. senator Charles Schumer of New York announced Wednesday that he has recommended Pamela Ki Mai Chen, a federal prosecutor specializing in civil rights, to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

If confirmed, Chen would become only the second female Chinese-American in U.S. history and one of a handful of out lesbians and gay men to receive one of the nearly 900 lifetime appointments to the federal district and appellate courts. Last year Schumer recommended Alison Nathan, who was nominated by President Obama and confirmed for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Senator Schumer praised Chen’s experience and intellect in the statement that announced his recommendation. The senator has a strong track record of recommending diverse candidates, including Judge J. Paul Oetken, who is gay and was also confirmed to the Southern District last year.

“Pamela Chen will be an excellent federal judge. She is an experienced attorney with a long record of public service who possesses the legal excellence, intellect and temperament to be a first-rate judge,” he said. “Ms. Chen is a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Her leadership skills, her commitment to justice, and her extensive experience make her an fantastic choice for a position on the Eastern District Court.”

Chen, a graduate of the Georgetown Law School, is the daughter of Chinese-American immigrants. She worked in private practice before serving in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently she serves as chief of the Civil Rights Section’s Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she has specialized in the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights matters, including human trafficking. Her other experience includes service as the deputy commissioner for enforcement at New York State’s Division for Human Rights in 2008, according to biographical information provided by Schumer’s office.