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Congratulations
 
Congratulations to Judge William Thomas
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/15/12
Last updated on: 11/15/12
 
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The courthouse of the U. S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida.

On November 14, 2012, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge William Thomas to serve on the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida. Judge Thomas is President Obama's seventh openly glbtq judicial nomination and his first openly gay African-American man to serve on the federal bench.

As Chris Geidner reports in BuzzFeed, the President included Thomas among a diverse set of new nominees, saying "They . . . represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves."

The President added, "These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system. I am grateful for their willingness to serve and confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. Too many of our courtrooms stand empty. I hope the Senate will promptly consider all of my nominees and ensure justice for everyday Americans."

Judge Thomas is currently a Circuit Court Judge in Miami, a position in which he has served since 2005. He previously served as a state and federal public defender. He is a 1991 graduate of Washington and Jefferson College and earned his law degree at Temple University in 1994.

Thomas is President Obama's first openly gay African-American male to be nominated to a judicial appointment, but, if approved by the Senate, he would be the second openly gay black judge. The first, Judge Deborah Batts, was nominated by President Clinton and serves on the Southern District of New York bench. She took "senior status," a near retirement, earlier this year and made news a year ago when she wed Dr. Gwen Zornberg, as reported here.

President Obama has now nominated seven openly glbtq lawyers for lifetime-tenured federal judgeships. Three of them have been approved by the Senate. Judges J. Paul Oetken and Alison Nathan both now sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Michael Fitzgerald sits on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Awaiting confirmation by the Senate are, in addition to Thomas, Pamela Ki Mai Chen, an out lesbian who was nominated this summer to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Judge Michael McShane, an openly gay man who was nominated in September to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

The final openly gay judicial nominee put forward by President Obama, Edward DuMont, eventually had his nomination withdrawn after there was no movement on it over the course of two sessions of Congress. He was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Geidner reports that Denis Dison of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund told him that Thomas was recommended for a judgeship by the Presidential Appointments Project, which the Victory Fund coordinates.

 
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