Story at a glance

  • Patrick Bumatay is now the highest-ranking federal judge out as a member of the LGBTQ community.
  • He is the second openly LGBTQ person nominated by the President as a federal judge.
  • His nomination was not supported by Democrats, who cited a lack of experience and his conservative affiliations.

Patrick Bumatay was confirmed on Dec. 10 as a U.S. Circuit Court judge for the Ninth Circuit by a vote of 53 to 40. He is now the highest-ranking openly gay federal judge and highest-ranking federal judge of Filipino descent. 

All 53 senators who voted for the confirmation were Republicans, and 39 of the 40 who voted against the confirmation were Democrats. Democrats voiced their opposition when he was first nominated in October, becoming the second out LGBTQ person to be nominated as a federal judge by President Donald Trump. Both Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, the senators from Bumatay's home state of California, did not support his nomination. 

Senator Kamala Harris said in a statement, “Mr. Bumatay has a troubling prosecutorial record, lacks the requisite experience, and has drawn criticism from members of California’s legal community, across party lines. It is clear that he lacks the judgment and qualifications to serve on the Ninth Circuit."

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Conservatives, however, praised Mr. Bumatay. “Patrick Bumatay will make a terrific judge on the Ninth Circuit," said former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "Patrick’s many fine qualities, including his integrity, intellect, and collegiality, make him exceedingly worthy of this position. And his fidelity to the text of the Constitution is exactly what this country needs."

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Bumatay was previously an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California and counselor to the Attorney General. He has argued two cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Trump had previously nominated Bumatay to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of California, but withdrew that nomination for this one. Bumatay is the second openly gay person Trump has nominated to the federal bench, after Mary Rowland, who became a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois in August. 

Bumatay replaces Carlos Bea, who was nominated by George W. Bush in 2003 and said this year he would step away from full-time duties and go on senior status.

Published on Dec 11, 2019