WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Tuesday unanimously confirmed the first openly gay judge to a federal appeals court.
Todd Hughes will serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which mainly deals with intellectual property, not controversial social issues.
A statement posted online, after the 98-0 vote, by presidential counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said: "Like all of the president's judicial nominees, Hughes has the intellect, experience, integrity and temperament to be a successful judge. He is also gay."
The 11 geographical U.S. courts of appeal and the federal circuit are just one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Hughes' historic confirmation is yet another 'first' among President Obama's federal judges," the statement said. "Many of the president's circuit judges have broken new diversity barriers -- including three Hispanic, two Asian-American, and one African-American -- who are 'firsts' in their respective courts."
Obama "is confident that these men and women will serve with honor, distinction and fidelity to the rule of law on the federal bench," the statement said. "And, at the same time, the judiciary will better reflect the nation it serves, instilling even greater public confidence in our justice system. We look forward to the 'seconds' and 'thirds' who will come after Todd Hughes and his fellow 'firsts' currently serving on our courts."
Hughes has been a deputy director in the civil division of the Justice Department since 2007.