Biden nominates first LGBT woman to federal circuit court

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is nominating a Vermont judge who played a critical role in paving the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage to become the first openly LGBT woman to serve on any federal circuit court.

The White House announced Thursday that Biden has tapped Beth Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The court’s territory includes Connecticut, New York and Vermont.

In 1999, before she was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court, Robinson helped argue the case that led to Vermont’s civil unions law, the first legal recognition in the country of same-sex relationships — a forerunner of gay marriage.

Robinson served as counsel to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, from 2010 to 2011. From 1993 to 2010, Robinson was a civil litigator in private practice at Langrock Sperry & Wool where she focused on employment law, workers’ compensation, contract disputes and family law.

Robinson previously worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C., focusing on white-collar criminal defense. She was a law clerk for Judge David Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1990.

The White House also announced that Biden is nominating employment law attorney Charlotte Sweeney for the U.S. District Court in Colorado. She would become the the first openly LGBT woman to serve as a federal district court judge in any state west of the Mississippi.

Biden thus far has announced 35 judicial nominees to serve on the federal bench.


The headline on this story has been corrected to say Robinson would be the first LGBT woman to serve on a federal circuit court, not the first LGBT person to serve on a federal circuit court.

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