On Monday, July 18, the Senate confirmed J. Paul Oetken by a vote of 80 to 13 to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. Oetken is the first openly gay man to be confirmed to a lifetime federal judgeship. Although he was approved by committee without opposition more than three months ago, Senate Republicans did not allow him a floor vote until today.
“Paul Oetken is fair-minded and impeccably qualified for this position; he will make a superb judge,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “The fact that his confirmation was delayed by the GOP’s ongoing obstruction of judicial nominees shows that even the most qualified nominees aren’t immune to GOP stalling tactics. Americans deserve a functioning judiciary, but Republican gridlock over the last two years has been putting that in deep danger. Today’s vote is a step in the right direction, but we need many, many more.
“Americans should be proud of the increasing diversity of our federal courts. President Obama deserves real credit for both the accomplishments and diversity of nominees – their confirmations make our judicial system stronger for everyone.”