Out local judge makes history
by Angela Thomas
Nov 29, 2012 | 959 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Philadelphia judge has made history as the first out lesbian Latina ever to be nominated to the federal bench.

This week, President Obama nominated Judge Nitza Quiñones Alejandro to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“Prior to the Obama administration, only one openly gay individual had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on our federal judiciary,” said the Human Rights Campaign in a statement, noting that Obama has since nominated eight out candidates for life-tenured federal-judiciary roles.

The White House announced the decision Nov. 27. It is unclear if the Senate will have enough time in the winding-down session to confirm Quiñones, so the nomination may need to be made again next year.

Quiñones has served as a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas since 1991, overseeing both civil and criminal matters. She has also served as an attorney in the federal departments of Veteran Affairs and Health and Human Services.

Obama said this week that he is exceptionally confident in Quiñones and two other Pennsylvania nominees, U.S. Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo and Berks President Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl.

“These men and women have had distinguished legal careers and I am honored to ask them to continue their work as judges on the federal bench,” Obama said. “They will serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

Quiñones’ nomination was strongly recommended and advocated by U.S. Sens. from Pennsylvania Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R).

Toomey said in a statement that Quiñones “has presided over many cases incorporating different facts of the law. In addition to her extensive experience in the courtroom, she has also remained active in her community through her work with schools and mentoring summer-law interns.”

Casey said he was “proud to work in a bipartisan fashion” with Toomey to nominate Quiñones and the other candidates and is eager for the Senate to work “in a constructive manner” to confirm them to the bench.

Quiñones received a bachelor’s of business administration and ultimately a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico.

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