By DOTTIE PARIS, TFLJ Features Editor
In an effort to enable greater understanding, the American Constitution Society and the National LGBT Bar Association will co-host a press briefing today on diversity on the bench.
Moderating “The Path to the Federal Bench,” will be Caroline Fredrickson, executive director of the ACS. The briefing is being held in advance of release of a guide on how to pursue federal judgeships.
Diversity on the bench increases the ability of the courts to grapple with complicated issues that affect underrepresented groups. Citizens also have more confidence in a federal judiciary that reflects the nation’s diverse population. However, current obstructions plague nominations of diverse judges to the federal judiciary.
For example, Edward DuMont’s long-pending nomination faced obstructions that prevented him from being an openly gay judge in the federal judiciary; and Daniel Alter, whose nomination to serve as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was rejected because of comments made about the Pledge of Allegiance which were made in his capacity as an official with the Anti-Defamation League.
Similar situations plague other nominees who would significantly contribute to the diversity of our federal courts if confirmed; including Goodwin Liu, who would have been the only Asian Pacific American on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and one of just a few in our federal courts; and Arvo Mikkanen, who will be the only American Indian on the federal bench if he survives the nomination process. Such delays not only hinder efforts to diversify the bench but also create gaps where federal judgeships should be filled.
Additionally, recent motions have been presented to vacate decisions by diverse judges on the bench, such as Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger due to his sexual orientation. Equally, judges have been subject to removal for applying constitutional principles that resulted in an affirmation of civil rights, for instance the three Iowan judges who were ousted because of their ruling on gay marriage.
“The Path to the Federal Bench” is co-sponsored by the coalition of groups that developed the publication: the National LGBT Bar Association, the ACS, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, The National Bar Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Association of Women Judges, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and Justice at Stake.
- Moderator, Caroline Fredrickson, Executive Director, American Constitution Society
- John E. Echohawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund
- D’Arcy Kemnitz, Executive Director, National LGBT Bar Association
- Tina Matsuoka, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Reception to celebrate the launch of “The Path to the Federal Bench” to follow, featuring:
- Theodore A. McKee, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
WHEN: May 31, 2011.The briefing will begin at 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow at 6 p.m. and a brief program at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Jones Day, Capitol Terrace, 51 Louisiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.
RSVP: The event is free, but RSVP is required. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.