Will Republicans Again Stop Obama From Putting Gay Man on Appeals Court?

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com February 07 2013 3:07 PM ET

The first time that President Obama nominated a gay man for the federal appeals court, the nominee went without a confirmation hearing for so long that he withdrew.

Obama today announced more nominees for the bench and one of them, Todd Hughes, presents a chance to break through a long-standing glass ceiling in the judicial branch.

Obama said Hughes and today's other pick, Raymond T. Chen, "displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers."

Edmund Dumont had been Obama's selection in 2010 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is often considered a prime place to find potential Supreme Court justices. The court hears cases based not on geography but instead on whether the subjects include  lawsuits against the government or patent law. Dumont withdrew his name from consideration and blamed Republicans in the Senate for denying him a vote.

"Although I was first nominated more the 18 months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee has not held a hearing on my nomination," he wrote in a letter to the president in November 2011. "My understanding is that this inaction results from opposition on the part of one or more members of the Committee minority. While I regret this, I also recognize that any degree of opposition can be enough, as a practical matter, to prevent action by the full Committee or the Senate. Given the passage of time, that appears to be the case here."

The Human Rights Campaign praised the pick of Hughes in this next round with the Senate, pointing out it had recommended him — a deputy director in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice — for an appointment in the Federal Circuit in 2010.

The complete biography for Hughes provided by the White House is on the following page.

From the White House...
 

Todd M. Hughes:  Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Todd M. Hughes is Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice, a position he has held since 2007.  He also has served as an adjunct lecturer in law with the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and as an instructor for Duke University’s writing program.
 
Hughes received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1989 and completed a joint degree program with Duke University, earning both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992.  After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for the Honorable Robert B. Krupansky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  In 1994, he joined the Commercial Litigation Branch as a trial attorney.  Five years later, he was appointed to be Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007.  Throughout his career with the Department of Justice, Hughes’s practice has been devoted to matters of federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims.  He has extensive experience before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Federal Claims, and he has garnered a number of special commendations from the Department of Justice and a special contribution award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.