In a 48 to 44 vote along strict party lines, the Senate confirmed Alison Nathan ’00 to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, making her the first openly gay woman to become a federal judge in New York. “The President welcomes the confirmation of Alison Nathan,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye.” She will serve the American people well from the District Court bench.”
After earning her Juris Doctor from Cornell, where she was editor in chief of the Law Review, Nathan clerked for Judge Betty Binns Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Associate Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court. She was an associate at WilmerHale, a visiting professor at Fordham University School of Law, and a fellow at New York University School of Law.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Nathan served as a senior adviser to Barack Obama. The following year, she was appointed associate White House Counsel, and in 2010, she became special counsel to the solicitor general of New York.
At her judiciary committee hearing, Nathan faced questions about her views on the death penalty, gun rights, and judicial precedents. On Capitol Hill, her nomination was opposed by the conservative Heritage Action for America and the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, which criticized Nathan for representing the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Service Members Legal Defense Network, and individual service members in challenges to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
In response, Senator Charles Schumer praised Nathan, saying that she “represents the best the New York bar has to offer,” and urged colleagues to support her nomination. “Alison Nathan has tremendous legal experience… She is a gifted young lawyer whom New Yorkers would be fortunate to have on the bench, hopefully for a long time.”