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First openly lesbian judge confirmed to federal circuit court

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Justice Beth Robinson was confirmed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, becoming the first openly lesbian woman to be confirmed to a federal circuit court.

The Senate voted to confirm Robinson in a 51-45 vote, with four senators abstaining from voting. All Democratic senators — apart from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who abstained — voted to confirm Robinson along GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

President Biden announced in August he was nominating Robinson, who began her tenure as a Vermont Supreme Court justice in 2011. She was part of Biden’s sixth round of judicial nominees.

“In Justice Robinson — who has spent ten distinguished years on the Vermont State Supreme Court — the Senate is presented with another experienced, dedicated, and historic nominee,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday, ahead of Robinson’s confirmation.

“She would be the very first openly gay woman to serve not just in the Second Circuit, but in any federal circuit court in the country—another barrier torn down in the halls of justice. We are proud of tearing down those barriers and making the bench more inclusive and more like America,” said Schumer.

As NPR noted, only 13 out of federal judgeships are currently held by openly gay or lesbian judges and there has never been an openly transgender or bisexual nominee.

Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy (D) and Bernie Sanders (I) both celebrated Robinson’s confirmation on Monday.

“For the past decade, she has served on the [Vermont Supreme Court] honorably, and has participated in nearly 1,800 decisions,” Leahy said in a statement.

“Her tenure has been a display of commitment to the rule of law. Her unwavering, decade-long dedication as a jurist and her loyalty to the law above all else has made Beth Robinson an outstanding Vermont Supreme Court Justice. I have no doubt she will carry that approach to justice with her to the Second Circuit,” he added.

On Twitter, Sanders wrote, “I want to congratulate Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson for her momentous confirmation today to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Thank you for your continued service. I know you will make Vermont proud and will be an excellent addition to the federal bench.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Biden judicial nominees Chuck Schumer Joe Biden Kirsten Gillibrand LGBTQ representation Lisa Murkowski Patrick Leahy Susan Collins Vermont
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