Did Biden Nominate the First Gay Federal Appeals Court Judge?

An AP headline is incorrect.

An article from the Associated Press is headlined “Biden nominates first LGBT federal appeals court nominee,” a claim that was further elevated by news outlets that reprinted the AP article, including the Washington Post, ABC News, and U.S. News & World Report. The Washington Post later deleted its story.

The article is about Justice Beth Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court, whom Biden has nominated to serve on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The AP article correctly notes that Robinson would “become the first openly LGBT woman to serve on any federal circuit court.” However, the broader claim in the headline—that Robinson is the first LGBT federal appeals court nominee—is inaccurate.

In 2013, the Senate confirmation of Obama nominee Todd Hughes to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made Hughes the first openly gay federal appeals court judge. Hughes was followed by Patrick J. Bumatay, an openly gay man who was appointed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Donald Trump in 2019.

While the AP article itself is accurate and includes the distinction that Robinson would become the first LGBT woman to serve on a federal circuit court, the accompanying headline is misleading. 

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