Obama Nominates Second Gay Man to Federal Bench

Earlier in January I reported that Obama had renominated more than 40 judicial candidates. Among them was Edward Carroll Dumont of D.C., nominated to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit. DuMont would be the first openly gay federal appellate court judge in the nation. DuMont was originally nominated last April.

Oetken Yesterday, Obama nominated a former Clinton administration lawyer recommended by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "The lawyer, J. Paul Oetken, 45, is a senior vice president and associate general counsel of Cablevision."

Oetken has been nominated as a federal judge in Manhattan.

The NYT:

Senator Schumer said on Thursday that Mr. Oetken fit his three criteria for federal judges: legal excellence, moderation of views and diversity.

“I am looking for people who fit the three criteria, and I was shocked to learn there were no openly gay male judges on the entire federal bench.” Mr. Oetken “fit the bill,” he added.

Mr. Oetken, a graduate of the University of Iowa and Yale Law School, was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and worked in the Justice Department and in the White House counsel’s office.

Before joining Cablevision, Mr. Oetken was in private practice in New York.

Schumer's previous recommendation Daniel Alter was rejected in October, reportedly because of remarks he made about a case challenging inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and additional remarks suggesting that merchants not wish shoppers "Merry Christmas" during the holidays.


  1. says

    I don’t mind noting that someone’s attractive on a posting like this, as long as his more salient qualities (intelligence, experience, etc) are the main focus. It doesn’t mean we’re shallow. It means we’re men.

  2. says

    @ JAMES and THE MILKMAN: I think it means we’re honest about the fact that humans are programmed to evaluate people based on looks. And part of that honesty is the reminder to ourselves that looks may or may not reflect the content of a person’s character.

  3. Anastasia Beaverhausen says

    So if the comments here don’t include acclaim for someone’s appearance then we’re to assume they’re unsightly? And if they’re empty-headed but pretty then they get a pass?

    And if J. Paul Oetken (pictured) was anti-gay he’d be bald, red-eyed, and in need of eyebrow management or something? And if Maggie Gallagher, of NOM disrepute, was instead a leader in PFLAG then she’d radiate enchanting beauty instead of being a sad old cow?

    I’m not judging, I just need to know so I can recalibrate.

  4. says

    Your top of the page headline, “First out gay judge to serve on federal bench” is only correct if you don’t include, as most people do, lesbians under “gay.”

    Bill Clinton appointed the first gay federal judge. Deborah Batts was sworn in as a Federal District Judge for Manhattan in June of 1994.

  5. GregV says

    The small headline at the top of the page and the other headline above the article do seem contradictory.
    One seems to suggest he would be the first out gay federal judge and the other seems to suggest he would become the second out gay MALE judge.
    I don’t know who how many gay judges of either sex there have been, but it would at least be consistent if it had said the reverse (first out gay male but second out gay person on the bench). But he couldn’t be the second gay male and the first gay person.

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