WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2021 – Today the Senate voted to confirm two more of President Biden’s nominees to the nation’s federal circuit courts: Beth Robinson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Toby Heytens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. This brings the total number of appeals court judges confirmed this year to nine, in addition to 19 district court judges.
Justice Beth Robinson has served on the Vermont Supreme Court for the past decade, where she has heard nearly 1,800 appeals and written hundreds of opinions on both civil and criminal matters. Prior to her time on the Court, she spent nearly 20 years in private practice, representing workers, families, and people with disabilities in state and federal court. She notably litigated the case that led Vermont to become the first state to legally recognize the relationships of same-sex couples. She is the first openly lesbian judge confirmed to a U.S. circuit court.
Toby Heytens brings extensive legal experience to his new role as judge, including as Virginia’s solicitor general, as a professor at the University of Virginia’s School of Law, and as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice. He has argued ten cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including successfully arguing a case that helped end racial gerrymandering in 11 of Virginia’s congressional districts. He also represented Virginia in a case at the Virginia Supreme Court defending the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim Brooks issued the following statement:
“Judges Beth Robinson and Toby Heytens are both incredible public servants who will bring important professional and lived experience to their respective circuit courts. Robinson’s confirmation is particularly historic given the dearth of LGBTQ+ representation on our courts and her legacy of advocating for LGBTQ+ equality. We are confident she will not be the last such champion of equal justice for all confirmed by this administration. Still, as an openly gay man, her confirmation fills me with special pride.
“President Biden and Senate Democrats are on track to outpace the last five presidents in the confirmation of federal judges. What’s more, his judges have unparalleled experience in areas like civil rights law, voting rights, labor law, and criminal defense. While more work must be done to undo the conservative takeover of our courts, Robinson and Heytens are emblematic of the exceptionally well-qualified judges that President Biden and Senate Democrats continue to confirm to the federal bench. Simply put, they are exactly the kinds of jurists we need to restore faith in our courts.”