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Popular Topics in Literature
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Congratulations
 
Congratulations to Todd M. Hughes
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 02/07/13
Last updated on: 02/07/13
 
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Congratulations to attorney Todd M. Hughes, who has been nominated by President Obama to a seat on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. If confirmed by the United States Senate, Hughes will become the first openly gay appeals court judge in American history.

In a press release, President Obama described Hughes and fellow nominee Raymond T. Chen as having "displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers." He said, "I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals. I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the Federal Circuit."

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.

Upon learning of Hughes's nomination, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund issued the following statement: "His nomination is a testament to the expanding opportunities for openly LGBT Americans who want to serve their country, and to the president's respect for the depth of talent and experience within the LGBT community. We look forward to his confirmation by the U.S. Senate."

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

Three of the President's nominees 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 Pamela Ki Mai Chen, an out lesbian who was nominated in the summer of 2012 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York; Judge Michael McShane, an openly gay man who was nominated in September 2012 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon; Judge William Thomas, who was nominated in October 2012 to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida; and Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas who was nominated in November 2012 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The final openly gay judicial nominee put forward by President Obama, Edward DuMont, was nominated for seat on the same court Hughes is nominated to serve on, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Dumon withdrew his nomination after there was no movement on it over the course of two sessions of Congress.

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 and made news in 2011 when she wed Dr. Gwen Zornberg, as reported here.

 
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