Fordham Law


Senate Due to Vote on Judicial Nomination of Openly Gay Lawyer

J. Paul Oetken in The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2011

Media Source

Update: The Senate has confirmed Oetken’s nomination.

The U.S. Senate is due today to vote on the nomination of J. Paul Oetken for a federal judgeship in New York City.

The nomination is getting a little extra attention because if confirmed Oetken reportedly would become the first openly gay man to serve on the federal bench.

Here’s Oetken’s Wiki page and here’s a New York Times profile.

A native of Kentucky, Oetken is a former Supreme Court clerk and lawyer in the Clinton White House. He is also an alumni of Debevoise & Plimpton and Jenner & Block, and he teaches part time at Fordham University Law School, while holding down a day job as an associate general counsel at Cablevision.

New York Senator Charles Schumer told the Times he recommended that Obama nominate Oetken in part because the senator believes the federal bench should be more diverse.

“I was shocked to learn there were no openly gay male judges on the entire federal bench,” Schumer said.

The liberal Think Progress blog has a post today saying the Senate needs to pick up the speed in confirming the president’s judicial nominees.

If confirmed, Oetken would be the fourth new federal judge in the last two months.  The problem, as Think Progress sees it, is that federal judges are retiring at about the rate of one per week, meaning the federal bench is losing members at twice the speed that it is gaining them.