July 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama nominates fourth openly gay nominee to federal judiciary

President Obama nominated on Wednesday the fourth openly gay person over the course of his administration to a seat on the federal judiciary.

Michael Walker Fitzgerald, a private attorney with Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in Los Angeles, Calif., was nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

“I am honored to nominate Michael Walter Fitzgerald to the United States District Court,” Obama said in a statement. “His impressive career stands as a testament to his formidable intellect and integrity. I am confident he will serve the people of California with distinction on the District Court bench.”

Prior to joining Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in 1998, Fitzgerald worked at the Law Offices of Robert L. Corbin PC and at the law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe. Fitzgerald also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, where he handled a wide range of criminal cases, such as a drug and money laundering case involving what at that time was the second-largest cocaine seizure in California.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who recommended the nomination, hailed Obama’s decision to name Fitzgerald to the federal bench.

“I am pleased the President has nominated respected Los Angeles attorney Michael W. Fitzgerald to serve as a federal judge for the Central District of California,” Boxer said. “Michael’s sharp intellect, record of public service and broad legal experience will be a real asset on the federal bench.”

The nomination of Fitzgerald makes him the Obama’s fourth openly gay federal judicial nominee and is subject to Senate confirmation. Fitzgerald would also become the first openly gay judge confirmed to serve in California.

The Senate on Monday confirmed J. Paul Oetken to the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, making him the first openly gay man to sit on the federal bench. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported out the nomination of Alison Nathan, a lesbian, by a vote of 14-4. Another gay nominee, Edward DuMont, who’s been nominated for a position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, has yet to be considered by the committee.

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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