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Regional News

Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson Nominated To Federal Appeals Court

FILE - In this Nov. 28 2011 file photo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, administers the oath of office to Beth Robinson as Associate Justice on the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier, Vt. The White House announced Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, that President Joe Biden has tapped Beth Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The court's territory includes Connecticut, New York and Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 28 2011 file photo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, administers the oath of office to Beth Robinson as Associate Justice on the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier, Vt. The White House announced Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, that President Joe Biden has tapped Beth Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The court's territory includes Connecticut, New York and Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

President Joe Biden nominated Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson on Thursday to serve on the federal appeals court.

Robinson would fill the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit previously held by Justice Peter Hall who died in March. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would be the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on any federal circuit court, according to the White House.

Robinson, who spent nearly two decades in private practice with Langrock, Sperry & Wool, LLP, played a key role in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont.

She served as co-counsel in Baker v. Vermont — the pivotal lawsuit that led Vermont to become the first state in the country to establish civil unions in 2000.

Holly Puterbaugh, one of the plaintiffs in the Baker case, said Robinson’s nomination to federal appeals court was cause for celebration.

“Her mind is amazing,” Puterbaugh said. “What she did when she argued our case in front of the [Vermont] Supreme Court ran circles around the state.”

More from Vermont Edition: 20 Years Later: What Vermont’s Baker Decision Did For LGBTQ Rights

Robinson also helped push for the enactment of Vermont’s marriage equality law in 2009.

She left Langrock, Sperry & Wool in 2010 and served as counsel to former Gov. Peter Shumlin until 2011 when she was appointed by Shumlin to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Former Justice John Dooley, who served with Robinson for six years, said she was a “delightful” colleague.

“She was a very, very quick study,” he said. “Very bright, very, very committed, really hard working from the day she arrived.”

Robinson’s appointment was also praised by Gov. Phil Scott, who will pick her successor if her nomination is confirmed. In a written statement, Scott urged the Senate to quickly approve her appointment.

“She will make a great addition to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit," Scott said in the statement, adding that she would bring values such as "commitment to justice and equality and fairness" to the bench.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, in a phone interview with VPR, said he expects the Senate will take up Robinson’s nomination in September. Leahy said he thinks she’ll be confirmed “very easily.”

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors.

Copyright 2021 Vermont Public Radio