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President Obama nominates gay man for a seat on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit


By Scottie Thomaston

President Obama has nominated another openly gay man, Todd M. Hughes, for a seat on the Federal Circuit. He would be the first openly LGBT appeals court judge if confirmed. The White House says:

“Raymond T. Chen and Todd M. Hughes have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers,” President Obama 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’ bio is also listed in the press release:

Todd M. Hughes is Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at 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 with Duke University, earning both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992. After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for the Honorable 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 to be Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007. Throughout his career with the Department of Justice, Hughes’s practice has been devoted to matters of federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims. He has extensive experience 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 a special contribution award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund issued a statement upon news of the nomination:

“If confirmed, Todd Hughes would become the first openly gay federal appeals court judge in U.S. history. 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.”

This is the second time President Obama has nominated a gay man to the Federal Circuit. Edward DuMont withdrew his nomination in 2011 after it was stalled in the Senate.

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