President Trump has nominated to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals an openly gay federal prosecutor tasked with enforcing organized crime and drug laws, doubling the number of his out judicial nominees.
The White House announced Trump’s nomination of Patrick Bumatay to the Ninth Circuit last week as part of a group of 18 nominees for judgeships as well as appointments as U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals. Log Cabin Republicans confirmed to the Washington Blade on Monday Bumatay is openly gay.
Should the U.S. Senate confirm Bumatay, he’d be the second openly gay person appointed to a federal appeals court and one of the highest-ranking judges in the United States.
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said Trump’s appointment of Bumtay to the Ninth Circuit was significant.
“Patrick would make an excellent addition to the court — the historic nature of his nomination as an openly gay man adds an additional layer of prestige to what by all counts is an exceptional career in law,” Angelo said.
Obama appointed the first and currently the openly gay federal appeals judge, U.S. Circuit Judge Todd Hughes. Hughes serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and is currently the highest ranking openly gay federal judge.
According to his White House bio, Bumatay is an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and works for the Organized Crime & Drug Enforcement Task Forces Section. Bumatay is detailed to the Office of the Attorney General, where he serves as counselor to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on criminal issues such as the national opioid strategy and transnational organized crime.
Among the groups in which Bumatay has membership, according to his bio, is the San Diego-based Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, which seeks to advance LGBT issues in California. Bumatay is also a member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association.
Other positions in which Bumatay has served at the U.S. Justice Department include the Office of the Deputy Attorney General; the Office of the Associate Attorney General, where he oversaw civil enforcement programs; and the Office of Legal Policy.
Bumatay clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich, a George W. Bush appointee who sits on the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes, another Bush appointee on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Bumatay graduated with honors from Yale University and obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School.
According to Buzzfeed News, the selection of Bumatay and other judicial nominees is a jab at Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). For months, the White House has been negotiating with the Democratic senators for an agreement on nominees for open seats on the Ninth Circuit, which compromises California. In the end, there was no agreement and Trump named judicial nominees not included among the consensus choices proposed by Feinstein and Harris.
It’s the second time Trump has named an openly gay person for the federal bench. The first was Mary Rowland, whom Trump nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Rowland’s nomination remains pending before the Senate.
Trump’s nomination of Bumatay stands in contrast to his other 140 judicial nominees, many of whom have anti-LGBT records. The more extreme anti-LGBT nominees litigated against marriage equality, in favor of California’s Proposition 8 and worked to facilitate anti-LGBT laws.
Trump has a long way to go to beat Obama’s record in appointing openly LGBT judicial nominees. Obama nominated a total of 11 openly gay judicial nominees, according to an archived page on the White House website.
(But Trump has now beat President Bill Clinton in naming out judicial nominees. Clinton named only one, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, who in 1994 became the first sitting openly gay federal judge. Batts currently serves with senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.)