Obama Nominates First Openly Gay Latina Federal Judge

If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Nitza I. Quiu00f1ones Alejandro would be the first out gay Latina to serve on the federal bench.

By Jorge Rivas Nov 27, 2012

President Obama nominated three new federal judges yesterday, including openly gay Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro, who currently serves on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Quiñones would be the first openly gay Latina to serve on the federal bench.

A Puerto Rico native, Judge Quiñones received her law degree in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and graduated with honors in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

The Pennsylvania Association for Justice has more details on Judge Quiñones’ history: 

Upon graduation from law school, Judge Quiñones relocated to Philadelphia to work as a staff attorney for Community Legal Services, Inc.

In May 1990, the Honorable Robert P. Casey, Governor of Pennsylvania, nominated Judge Quiñones Alejandro for a judicial appointment. The Senate hesitated in its confirmation, and on November 5, 1991, Judge Quiñones Alejandro was elected the first Hispanic female judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

Judge Quiñones is the eighth openly gay life-tenured federal court judicial nominee named by President Obama, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Prior to the Obama Administration, only one openly gay individual had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on our federal judiciary.

President Obama nominated a total of three judges to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today, the White House announced Tuesday. Judges Luis Felipe Restrepo, and Jeffrey L. Schmehl were also nominated.

"These nominees are emblematic of the president’s commitment to nominating qualified, diverse nominees to the federal bench," said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. "They are also a sign of the president’s commitment to solving the vacancy crisis in our federal courts without delay. One week after his reelection, the president nominated seven Americans to fill district and circuit court vacancies. Today, he has taken an important step in tackling the longstanding vacancy crisis in Pennsylvania."

Pennsylvania’s federal courts currently have eight vacancies. Two nominees for seats considered "judicial emergencies" have been waiting over four months for confirmation votes from the Senate, despite the stated support of their home-state senators.