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Congratulations
 
Congratulations to Todd Hughes
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/24/13
Last updated on: 09/24/13
 
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The Senate votes to confirm Todd Hughes.

Congratulations to Todd Hughes, who has been confirmed as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate on September 24, 2013 makes Hughes the first openly gay judge on a federal court of appeals.

Hughes currently serves as Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division of 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 at Duke University, where he earned both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992.

After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for Judge 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 Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007.

During his service at the Department of Justice, Hughes has concentrated on matters of federal personnel law, veterans' benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Hughes has appeared frequently 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 from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Federal Circuit is unique among the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeals. It has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States government, federal personnel, veterans' benefits, and public safety officers' benefits claims.

Appeals to the Court come from all federal district courts, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The court also takes appeals of certain administrative agencies' decisions, including the United States Merit Systems Protection Board, the Boards of Contract Appeals, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.

Hughes is the ninth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by President Obama.

Six of the President's openly gay nominees have been confirmed by the Senate and currently serve on district courts. Judges J. Paul Oetken and Alison Nathan both sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; Judge Michael Fitzgerald serves on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Judge Pamela Ki Mai Chen holds a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York; Judge Michael McShane serves on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon; and Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro sits on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Edward DuMont was nominated for seat on the same court Hughes will serve on, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Dumont withdrew his nomination after there was no movement on it over the course of two sessions of Congress.

On the same day that Hughes's nomination was confirmed, news comes that the nomination of Judge William Thomas, who was nominated in October 2012 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, has been blocked by Senator Marco Rubio. Had Thomas been confirmed, he would have been the first openly gay African-American federal judge.

Before President Obama, only one openly gay or lesbian person was nominated to the federal bench. Judge Deborah Batts, the first openly lesbian federal judge, was nominated by President Clinton and serves on the Southern District of New York bench. She took "senior status," a near retirement, in 2012.

 
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