The confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s latest judicial nomination was refreshingly bipartisan for Trump's first ever out lesbian pick.
Trump nominated Illinois judge Mary M. Rowland, through a June announcement, for a seat as a district judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Why is this significant for Instinct Readers? Because Rowland is an out lesbian and the first openly LGBTQ judge to be nominated by Trump since entering the White House.
Rowland has had a long standing history in the world of law. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.
After that, she worked as a staff attorney and later Chief Appellate Attorney for the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois, according to the American Bar Association.
While working for the Federal Defender Program, Rowland represented 275 indigent defendants in federal criminal cases. She then moved on to join a private law firm, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, before she was sworn in as a United States Magistrate Judge in 2012.
"Mostly, I'm just excited," she said at the time, according to the University of Chicago Law School. "I'm looking forward to the amount of variety the cases present. They present different areas of the law. Every day is different, every day is interesting."
According to the Washington Blade, the Senate Confirmation hearing for Rowland happened this past Wednesday (August 22), and went fairly smoothly.
Both Republican and Democratic senators seemed to respect Rowland and asked her easy questions. For instance, Louisiana senator John Kennedy (R) questioned Rowland’s views on which Supreme Court decision, besides Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education, had the biggest impact on American society.
Rowland answered that Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 decision that established judicial review, was the most the influential.
North Carolina senator Thom Tillis (R) also asked how Rowland sees the difference in her experience as a lawyer and as a judge.
Rowland replied by saying:
“At some point, I had to put a note on my bench saying you are no longer the lawyer because you can hear yourself talking out loud, ‘Well, you could argue it this way and what if you said it that way,’ and, of course, you’re not permitted to make arguments for lawyers anymore,” Rowland said. “It is also though a pleasure of being in a position of being unbiased and giving parties, both sides a fair shake, listening to what they have to say, and actually being in a position of helping them resolve the case.”
While Republican senators respected her and went fairly easy on her during the confirmation hearing, Democratic senators and LGBTQ advocates celebrated her during and after the hearing.
Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) introduced Rowland during the hearing and said that Rowland’s “reputation in the legal community is impeccable.” She also added that people who know Rowland “commend her good temperament, intelligence and fairness.”
Meanwhile, Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, commended the nomination of Mary Rowland.
“Mary Rowland is well-respected by the LGBTQ community in Illinois and we are pleased that someone with her experience and integrity was nominated,” Parker said.
“It is wonderful that she is openly and proudly out,” D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association, told The Daily Beast on the matter. “Visibility of the LGBT community, especially in the courts, is vitally important. A good judge is fair and open-minded. We hope that her life experiences as a lesbian inform her understanding of equality under the law.”
h/t: Washington Blade, University of Chicago, American Bar Association, The Daily Beast