Obama Poised to Fill 54 Federal Bench Vacancies: Lambda Legal Urges Unbiased Nominees
(New York, January 15, 2009) — As inauguration day draws near, Lambda Legal sent a letter to President–Elect Obama and the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining the monumental need for fair and impartial nominees to the federal bench who will address issues facing the gay community without bias.
"In the coming years, a number of key issues that significantly impact the gay community are likely to arise in the federal courts," said Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart. "The foremost consideration in nominating federal judges should be their commitment to rendering decisions impartially."
During his two terms, President Bush appointed 326 judges to the federal bench.
"It is no secret that the Bush Administration's goal was to pack the federal courts at all levels with arch–conservative judges who would be unfriendly to the vigorous protection of civil rights — not only for gay people, but for everyone," said Cathcart.
"To start, President-Elect Obama will have 54 vacancies to fill and we hope that those nominees can provide balance to what has become a federal system that is often hostile to the gay community," added Cathcart.
Today's letter is a follow-up to a memo Lambda Legal provided to the Obama Transition Team. It urges President–Elect Obama to nominate federal judges who adhere to precedents established in cases of importance to the gay community — including the right to privacy, protection against laws based on antigay bias, the right to sue in state courts under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and protections against HIV discrimination, among others.
Finally, the letter seeks to promote judicial integrity through nomination of jurists who represent the nation's diversity including people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, people of color, women, and those with public defender and public interest legal backgrounds.
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