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Will Bumatay Be First Openly Gay Ninth Circuit Justice?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Though federal courts around the country have been more and more accepting of LGBT litigants over the years, the federal appellate court bench has been rather devoid of LGBT representation.

President Trump has nominated an openly gay judge to one of the open seats on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Notably, the nominee, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Bumatay, would be the second ever openly gay federal appellate court judge, and the first for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Walker was not open about it and did not confirm his sexual orientation until after retiring from the bench).

Who Is Bumatay?

Interestingly, AUSA Bumatay is a member of both the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association (which has been known to push for more LGBT representation in the judiciary) and the Federalist Society, which to many pundits, may seem to be at odds.

Patrick Bumatay is viewed as a conservative, having worked in the Justice Department during the last Bush administration, as well as on the SCOTUS confirmations for Justices Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch (but not Kavanaugh). Although he is an AUSA for the Southern District of California, he is currently on assignment in D.C. serving as an advisor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the past, he clerked for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Tymkovich, and Federal Eastern District of New York judge Sandra Townes.

But, far right conservative groups are not pleased with his nomination, and have expressed concern that, as a judge, Bumatay would not be able to "separate his homosexuality from his jurisprudence."

Despite having never served on any bench, either state or federal, he is the only Ninth Circuit nominee (out of the three recently announced) whom the California Senators are not objecting to.

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