Schumer recommends Ghislaine Maxwell's judge for 2nd Circuit seat

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Judge Alison Nathan. Photo Courtesy of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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  • U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan recommended for 2nd Circuit seat
  • Three Biden nominees have been confirmed to court

(Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday recommended that President Joe Biden elevate the Manhattan federal judge overseeing the sex abuse trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If nominated and confirmed, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan would become the second openly lesbian woman to serve as a federal appellate judge, after the U.S. Senate this month approved Beth Robinson for a seat on the same New York-based court.

Schumer is the top Democrat in the Senate and the senior senator from New York. Biden often follows his recommendations, as well as those from other senior Democratic lawmakers, for home state nominees.

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Nathan, 49, was nominated by former Democratic President Barack Obama to the district court bench in 2011, after serving as a special assistant to Obama and associate White House counsel from 2009 to 2010.

Schumer on Twitter said he recommended her then and was "proud to champion" her again. He called her "outstanding."

The announcement comes as Nathan is presiding over jury selection in the trial of Maxwell, who prosecutors say recruited and groomed underage girls for deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other crimes.

Edward Friedland, the district executive for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in a statement said if Nathan were nominated, he had "every reason to believe" she would keep presiding over matters on her docket.

Some other former district court judges who were elevated to the 2nd Circuit similarly have continued to preside over cases from their pre-appellate days.

Besides Robinson, two other of Biden's picks for the 2nd Circuit, which hears cases from Connecticut, New York and Vermont, have won confirmation this year - former public defender Eunice Lee and voting rights advocate Myrna Pérez.

Republican appointees currently fill six of the 13 seats on the 2nd Circuit, which often hears Wall Street-related securities litigation and civil rights disputes and played host to many high-profile terrorism appeals.

Recently, three Democratic appointees, U.S. Circuit Judges José Cabranes, Rosemary Pooler and Susan Carney, have said they planned to take senior status.

Read more:

2nd Circuit's Carney to take senior status, creating new vacancy for Biden

U.S. Senate confirms first openly LGBTQ female appeals judge

New 2nd Circuit vacancies to open, giving Biden room to tilt court

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.