Critical Moment: Confirmation of Two LGBTQ+ Women as Lifetime Judges Imminent

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LGBTQ+ Women as Lifetime Judges
SIPA VIA AP IMAGES | COURTESY MELISSA DUBOSE


President Joe Biden is on the brink of matching a historical record by appointing 11 openly LGBTQ+ lifetime judges to the federal bench.

Nominations of Judges Nicole Berner and Melissa DuBose, if approved by the Senate, will tie Biden with former President Barack Obama’s record. These appointments come amid an increase in LGBTQ+ rights cases in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Berner, set to be the first openly LGBTQ+ judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, faces confirmation after the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recent approval. DuBose, awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, could become the first openly LGBTQ+ judge and person of color on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The significance of having more LGBTQ+ judges lies in building public trust and bringing diverse perspectives to the judiciary. With LGBTQ+ representation crucial, these appointments come at a time when legal battles over LGBTQ+ rights, especially for transgender individuals, are intensifying across various states.

The push for diversity in the federal judiciary aligns with broader efforts to address historic underrepresentation. While progress has been made, there is recognition that more work is needed to ensure a judiciary that reflects the broader U.S. population. Efforts include intentional recruitment, training, and support programs for LGBTQ+ legal professionals interested in public service. The National LGBTQ+ Bar Association plays a role in these initiatives, offering mentoring, networking, and cultural competency training for judges of all backgrounds. The goal is not only to increase LGBTQ+ representation but also to ensure fair decision-making across the judiciary.

Repurposed article originally published in the 19th

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