Three Democrat-appointed federal judges spoke on a “Pride on the Bench” panel Thursday hosted by left-wing activist groups, including one, the Alliance for Justice, that has repeatedly called for the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The three judges—Southern District of Florida Judge Darrin Gayles, an Obama appointee; Eastern District of Virginia Judge Jamar K. Walker, a Biden appointee; and Southern District of Illinois Judge Staci Yandle, an Obama appointee—answered questions posed by Black Leaders Caucus Chair Justin L. Hill and ALJ President Rakim Brooks on their confirmation process, the meaning of diversity on the bench and how they handle cases where their “rights” are the subject.
Alliance for Justice has also led “opposition movements against high-profile nominees such as Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh,” according to its website. Other event sponsors included the National Center for Lesbian Rights, LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, the Black Leaders Caucus, the Washington Bar Association, Family Equality, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Black Justice Coalition.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and HRC are among organizations representing families that challenged Florida’s ban on gender transition procedures for minors.
Hear from Judge Walker and other historic LGBTQ+ judges now on the federal bench tomorrow at 3ET!
— Alliance for Justice (@AFJustice) June 7, 2023
Recalling a question a senator asked her during the confirmation process about whether she would legislate from the bench or call “balls and strikes,” Yandle said during the webinar that “everybody has a different strike zone.”
“We are all committed to calling balls and strikes,” she said. “I’m going to call it from my strike zone. I’m intentional about it. I’m unapologetic.”
Yandle said black and gay judges should be their “authentic self” when using their voice from the bench.
“It was international news when [Yandle and I] were nominated,” Gayles said. “We were the second and third black ‘out’ judges.” (RELATED: ‘Out Of Control’: Diversity Initiatives Exploded At Top Office For Federal Courts In 2022)
One reason he believes diversity on the bench matters is “opportunities” district judges can create, such as hiring law clerks and appointing receivers.
Walker, who was confirmed in March, said the confirmation process was “invasive.”
He referenced an article a local outlet published following his confirmation. “He’s young. He’s Black. He’s gay. And he’s got a powerful new gig,” The Virginian-Pilot story said.
“My husband, who was a journalist, was like, ‘What editor approved this?” Walker said. “It’s the reality of what we have to deal with.”
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