November 10, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
White House withdraws gay appellate court nominee

The White House has withdrawn the nomination of an attorney who could have been the first openly gay person to sit on a federal appellate court, according to a notice posted late Thursday.

The nomination of Edward DuMont to the U S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was tagged as a “withdrawal sent to the Senate” amid seven other judicial nominees sent to Congress. A White House spokesperson didn’t respond to a request to comment on the withdrawal.

President Obama first nominated DuMont, an appellate litigation partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, to the position on April 14, 2010, but the Senate never took action on the nomination during the 111th Congress. Obama renominated him to the position this year, but his nomination never even saw a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His nomination had languished for more than 18 months without the taking Senate taking action.

In place of DuMont, Obama announced in the same notice he was nominating “Richard Gary Taranto, of Maryland, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, vice Paul R. Michel, retired.”

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, said, “We’re confident that the White House will nominate — and the Senate will confirm — other well-qualified attorneys to the federal bench.”

Earlier on Thursday, the website Law.com posted a letter dated Nov. 4 from DuMont requesting that his nomination be withdrawn, citing opposition from the Republicans on the committee as the reason for why the Senate didn’t move on his appointment.

“Although I was first nominated more than 18 months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee has not held a hearing on my nomination,” DuMont said. “My understanding is this opposition results from opposition on the part of one or more members of the Committee minority. While I regret this, I also recognize that any degree of opposition can be enough, as a practical matter, to prevent action by the full Committee or Senate. Given the passage of time, that appears to be the case here.”

Dumont adds that drawing out the nomination process further “does not seem either sensible to me or fair to the Federal Circuit, which has important work to do and deserves to be able to address it with a full complement of active judges.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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