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On Our Radar – Lesbian Jurist Alison Nathan

by Jean Ann Esselink on October 2, 2011

in Civil Rights,Jean Ann Esselink,News,Politics

Post image for On Our Radar – Lesbian Jurist Alison Nathan

On Our Radar this week is someone we may never get to know. Her name is Alison “Ali” Nathan and she’s a lawyer. Wikipedia says she is a graduate of Cornell Law School where she was editor in chief of the Law Review and a member of Cornell’s Quill and Dagger Society. I have no idea what that is either, my only college affiliations were Students for a Democratic Society and the Dominos Pizza Club — buy nine get the tenth free — but it sure sounds impressive. The Quill and Dagger Society. It has to have rendered Nathan at least as much credit in the gravitas column as the Skull and Bones did for George Bush and John Kerry.

In 2009 Ali Nathan served as White House Associate Counsel, and Special Assistant to President Obama, who has nominated her to replace retiring District Court Judge Sydney Stein in the Southern District of New York. While she is waiting for that appointment to be confirmed, Nathan is working in the New York Attorney General’s Office as Special Counsel to the Solicitor General. It would be hard to make the case she isn’t qualified to be a jurist.

In her personal life, Nathan (photo, above, left,) is the mother of twin three-year-old boys, Oliver and Nathan. I’ve seen a photo of them they are very cute. No 666s tattooed on their little blond All-American heads. Her partner, Meg Satterwhite is the Director of Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School. And yes, we have just tripped over the reason you may never get to know Ali Nathan. She’s a lesbian and not reticent to say so.

Nathan is in fact, the fourth “out” member of the LGBT community to be nominated for a judgeship by President Obama. So far only one of those candidates has made it through the process.

The Senate confirmed J. Paul Oetken, a gay New York attorney, as a District Court Judge last July. If Nathan is approved, they will serve together in the same district.

UC Berkeley graduate and gay attorney Michael Fitzgerald was nominated last August for the Central District of California bench. No action has been taken on Fitzgerald, but Senator Barbara Boxer, who recommended him to the president, said she hopes hearings will begin soon.

And Washington DC attorney Edward DuMont, nominated to the US District Court of Appeals, had his nomination returned to President Obama when the 111th Congress ended without a vote being taken. President Obama has renominated DuMont to the 112th Congress, but his nomination has not yet been taken up in committee.

The Judiciary Committee has finally acted on Alison Nathan. They reported out the nomination favorably, and now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have agreed on allowing Ali Nathan, along with nine other judicial nominees, to come up for a vote by the full Senate sometime after October 11th.

So this October, keep your eye on the Senate, and on Alison Nathan, whose future will be decided in the next few weeks. She’s someone we hope the Senate gives us a chance to know better. And that’s why this week; Alison Nathan is On Our Radar.

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