By Guy Page
Beth Robinson, a lesbian activist, lawyer and Vermont Supreme Court judge, has been nominated by Pres. Joe Biden to the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The announcement from the White House calls Robinson “a woman currently serving as Vermont’s first openly LGBT Supreme Court justice, who would also be the first openly LGBT woman to serve on any federal circuit court.” Today’s appointments of Robinson and another lesbian “fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.”
Robinson was co-counsel in Baker v. State, the case that resulted in the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court ruling that the state must grant same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex ones, the gay rights news website Advocate said. After Baker, Vermont became the first state to adopt a civil union law. In 2009, Robinson, with her organization Vermont Freedom to Marry, led the effort to legalize same-sex marriage.
Robinson, an Addison County resident, was born in 1965 and raised in Indiana. She received a BA from Dartmouth College in 1986 and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School in 1989. She clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit (1989–1990), practiced in the law firm of Langrock Sperry & Wool for 18 years (1993–2010), and served as counsel to Governor Peter Shumlin for one year (2011). Governor Shumlin appointed her to the Vermont Supreme Court as an associate justice on November 28, 2011.
Robinson is the first Biden administration appointment to the Second Circuit, which meets in Manhattan. The Trump administration appointed five. The Second Circuit handles appeals of federal cases brought in New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
Governor Phil Scott today issued the following statement: “Justice Robinson has been a steadfast public servant for the people of Vermont and has served admirably on the Vermont Supreme Court. She will make a great addition to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, bringing the Vermont values of commitment to justice and equality, fairness, and Freedom & Unity to the bench. I applaud the President for making this historic nomination, and I urge the United States Senate to move expeditiously towards her confirmation.”
Cover photo: Robinson outside of Vermont Supreme Court building, Vermont Law School photo
Categories: State Government