08.05.21

Comment On President Biden’s Nomination Of Beth Robinson To Be A Judge On The Court Of Appeals For The Second Circuit

Today is a good day for Vermont.  I am incredibly proud that President Biden has nominated Vermont’s very own Justice Beth Robinson to serve as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  I strongly praise President Biden for nominating Justice Robinson, who has been a tireless champion for equal rights and equal justice in the mold of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I know that, if confirmed, Justice Robinson would serve on the Second Circuit with integrity, humility, and a deep reverence for the rule of law.  And I have no doubt that she would make all Vermonters and Americans proud.

It is no exaggeration to say that Beth Robinson helped Vermont — and America — more fully realize the meaning of equality under the law.  As a civil litigator specializing in constitutional law and LGBTQ rights, Beth served as co-counsel the Baker v. State of Vermont lawsuit, in which the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage denied equal rights guaranteed by the Vermont Constitution.  Beth’s success in the Baker case directly resulted in Vermont’s enactment of the first civil union law in America.

Beth is steeped in duty and commitment.  She co-founded and chaired the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, a group that advocates for LGBTQ rights in Vermont and successfully pushed to enact Vermont’s full marriage equality law in 2009.  Beth’s successes provided a blueprint for advocates in other states to achieve more equality across the country.  As a result, Beth has widely — and rightfully — been hailed as one of our nation’s most important pioneers in the cause of LGBTQ rights.

In 2011, Governor Peter Shumlin nominated Beth Robinson to the Vermont Supreme Court.  She was then unanimously confirmed — a testament to the widespread respect she has earned — becoming the first openly gay Vermont Supreme Court Justice.  During her tenure, Justice Robinson has been widely praised as a consensus builder who is impartial and deeply dedicated to the fair application of the law.  And she is known to treat all the parties who appear before her with humanity and compassion.  To me, that is so important for all who serve on the federal bench.

Justice Robinson has also gone above and beyond her traditional duties, making sure that Vermont’s highest court is accessible to ordinary Vermonters whose lives are impacted by it.  She has served as the Chair of the Vermont Access to Justice Coalition, a joint venture between the Vermont Supreme Court and low-income legal service providers to expand meaningful access to Vermont’s justice system.  And she has enthusiastically taken part in the Vermont Supreme Court’s “On the Road Series,” where the justices hold hearings in different communities across the state to improve transparency into the state’s judicial system.

Justice Robinson’s nomination would fill the seat previously held by the late Judge Peter Hall, whose memorial service will take place this weekend.  Judge Hall loved the law, the people and the nation for whom adherence to the rule of law is paramount in our daily lives, leaving behind a remarkable legacy which I fervently believe Justice Robinson will carry forward, if confirmed. I congratulate Justice Robinson and her wife Dr. Kym Boyman on this nomination, and I look forward to confirming her to the Second Circuit expeditiously.

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