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Senate confirms Biden nominee as Puerto Rico's first LGBTQ federal judge

The Senate voted 54-42 to approve Gina Méndez-Miró, previously a Puerto Rico appeals court judge.
Judge Gina R Méndez Miró
Judge Gina Méndez-Miró.GDA via AP file
/ Source: Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday secured its 100th federal court appointment, as the U.S. Senate approved Gina Méndez-Miró as the first openly LGBTQ American judge to serve on the federal district court in Puerto Rico.

Méndez-Miró, previously a Puerto Rico appeals court judge, was approved in the Senate on a 54 to 45 vote.

Senate Democrats and the Biden administration have vowed to continue to fast-track efforts in the new year to reshape the federal judiciary, choosing demographically diverse candidates and nominees with varied legal experiences. Of Biden’s 100 judges, 76 thus far have been women and 68 have been people of color, according to Senate Democrats.

The Senate confirmed Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung to a seat on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, making her the first Asian American judge on that court.

“The more our judges reflect our nation’s vibrancy and diversity, the more effective they will be in administering equal justice,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “The more Americans look at our courts and see people who look like them and come from their backgrounds and share similar experiences, the better off our judicial system will be.”

Méndez-Miró did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Tuesday.

Since 2016 she has served on the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals, an intermediary court with jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters. She joined the court from the Puerto Rico Senate, where she served as chief of staff. Méndez-Miró, born in 1974, was a 2001 graduate of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

There are seven authorized federal district court bench slots in Puerto Rico.

Biden has moved faster than his White House predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, to appoint judges, but judicial experts have said they do not expect Biden to match Trump’s 231 picks over four years in office.

Biden had 13 more confirmations at the start of his third year in the White House compared with Trump, according to a report last month by judiciary scholar Russell Wheeler at the Brookings Institution.

Trump at the same point had 71 pending nominees, compared with Biden’s 53, Wheeler’s report showed. Overall, Trump appointed 54 appeals court judges and 177 district judges.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced to a full vote the nominations of 24 pending Biden court nominees.