J. Paul Oetken
|J. Paul Oetken|
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York|
July 20, 2011
|Appointed by||Barack Obama|
|Preceded by||Denny Chin|
|Born||James Paul Oetken
October 1, 1965 
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Iowa
James Paul Oetken (born October 1, 1965), known professionally as J. Paul Oetken, is a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He was confirmed on July 18, 2011 and received his commission two days later. He is the first openly gay man to serve on the federal bench.
Early life and education
Oetken was born in 1965 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was valedictorian and class president at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1988 from the University of Iowa and a law degree in 1991 from Yale Law School.
From 1991 until 1992, Oetken served as a law clerk for Judge Richard Cudahy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and from 1992 until 1993, he served as a law clerk to Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. From 1993 until 1994, Oetken served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Harry Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court.
From 1994 until 1996 or 1997, Oetken worked as an associate with the law firm of Jenner & Block. In 1997, he joined the Office of Legal Counsel in the United States Department of Justice as an attorney-advisor, where he worked until becoming an Associate Counsel to the President of the United States in the office of the White House Counsel in 1999. He held that job until President Bill Clinton left office in 2001.
Federal judicial service
On January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Oetken to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to replace Judge Denny Chin, whom Obama previously appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Oetken had been recommended to the post by New York Senator Charles Schumer.
Oetken is openly gay. He lives with his partner Makky Pratayot in Manhattan. Schumer stated that diversity was a consideration in his recommendations for federal judgeships, and that he was "shocked to learn" that no openly gay men had served on the federal bench.
The full United States Senate confirmed Oetken on July 18, 2011 in an 80–13 vote. He received his commission on July 20, 2011. Oetken is the second openly gay Article III judge in the country, after Deborah Batts.
Schumer recommended Oetken a year after he recommended former Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. Alter, also openly gay, whom the White House declined to nominate after concluding, because of statements that had been attributed to Alter, that his nomination was unlikely to survive the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
- Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
- Weiser, Benjamin (January 27, 2011). "Obama Nominee for Judge Could Be First Openly Gay Man on the Federal Bench". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (January 24, 2011). "Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees: J. Paul Oetken" (PDF). Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- Geidner, Chris (January 26, 2011). "Obama Nominates Oetken for N.Y. Federal Court Spot". Metro Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- Murdoch, Joyce; Price, Deb (2001). Courting Justice: Gay Men And Lesbians V. The Supreme Court. Basic Books. pp. 416–418. ISBN 978-0-465-01514-6.
- The White House: Office of the Press Secretary (January 26, 2011). "President Obama Names Six to United States District Court". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- The White House: Office of the Press Secretary (January 26, 2011). "Presidential nominations sent to the Senate". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- Ferrara, Lucas A. (September 27, 2010). "Schumer wants J. Paul Oetken to serve". NY Real Estate Law Blog. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- Schindler, Paul (January 26, 2011). "White House Announces Three LGBT Appointments". Gay City News. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- "Judge Oetken: Gay lawyer dons his robe, taking his place on the federal bench in Manhattan – and in history". Metro Weekly. November 3, 2011.
- Johnson, Chris (March 13, 2011). "Senate hearing set for gay judicial nominee". Washington Blade. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- Johnson, Chris (October 20, 2010). "White House rejects gay judicial nominee". Washington Blade. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- James Paul Oetken at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York