On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Nitza Quinones Alejandro to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Nominated last November by President Obama for this position, she was renominated at the start of the 113th Congress in January as part of a group of thirty-three nominees. Alejandro has been a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas since 1991. There, she presided over civil and criminal matters.
She is the first openly LGBT Hispanic to serve on the federal bench and the seventh openly LGBT person ever to receive confirmation as a federal judge. Prior to the Obama Administration, only one openly gay individual had been confirmed to serve with lifetime tenure on our federal judiciary.
After Quinones received her law degree in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, she began her legal career as staff attorney for Community Legal Services Inc. in Philadelphia from 1975 to 1977. From 1979 to 1991, she was a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to that job, Quinones was an attorney advisor for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services from 1977 to 1979. She holds a bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of Puerto Rico, with honors, in 1972.
Recommended by Republican and Democratic Senators
Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa) called Quinones “ an exceptionally qualified member of the legal community to the bench. Her life as a lawyer, judge and civic leader make her a true American success story. ” According to the Human Rights Campaign, Casey recommended Quinones, formerly a Puerto Rico native. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a Tea Party Republican, who was elected to the Senate in 2010, also commended Quinones for her record: “in her twenty-one years on the bench, Nitza Quinones Alejandro has presided over many cases incorporating different facets of the law. In addition to her extensive experience in the courtroom, she has also remained active in her community through her work with schools and mentoring summer law interns.”
A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, Michael Cole-Schwartz, commended the Senate for the “confirmation of another well-qualified LGBT person to the federal judiciary. We are very pleased to see yet another highly qualified, openly LGBT nominee confirmed to the federal bench, particularly a woman of color who helps reflect the diversity of the American people in the judiciary.”