The Trump nominee becomes the first Filipino American to serve on a federal appeals court and second openly gay federal circuit court judge
The United States Senate on Tuesday, December 10 voted to confirm a President Donald Trump-nominated Filipino American prosecutor to the largest appeals court in the country.
As the first Filipino American and second openly gay federal appeals court judge, Patrick J. Bumatay’s confirmation is historic. Originally nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California last year, Bumatay was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District on Oct. 15, 2019.
The Republican-majority Senate voted 53-40 on Tuesday in favor of Bumatay’s appointment which is currently awaiting judicial commission.
The 41-year-old assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California is the son of Filipino immigrants. He was born in Secaucus, New Jersey and graduated cum laude from Yale University, earning his Bachelor of Arts; after, he earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.
He then served the U.S. Department of Justice in a variety of capacities, working in the offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the Associate Attorney General and Legal Policy.
He also volunteered for President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and was later hired as a staff assistant and paralegal for the Bush White House.
As Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California in the San Diego office, he has served in the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces Section. At the time of his confirmation, he served as a counselor to the Attorney General consulting on the national opioid crisis, organized crime and the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” approach at the Southern border.
The Fil-Am prosecutor had assisted in the president’s efforts to appoint Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, during which he earned a departmental award for his work on the latter’s confirmation.
In 2018, Trump announced his intent to nominate Bumatay to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California despite opposition from both U.S. Sens of California Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein.
Both senators noted the diversity that Bumatay would bring to the court — as most court appointees are white and straight — but expressed concern over Bumatay’s lack of experience in appellate courts. Harris also cited Bumatay’s “troubling prosecutorial record” when she formally opposed his nomination in 2018.
On Sept. 20, 2019, Trump announced his intent to nominate Bumatay for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is headquartered in San Francisco and covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Bumatay is also a member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA) which recommended Bumatay to the executive branch in early 2019 “and has supported him throughout the appointment and confirmation process,” NFALA said.
“We congratulate Patrick on his historic confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” NFALA President Philip Nulud wrote in a statement. “Patrick’s strong qualifications, including his breadth of experience as a federal prosecutor, a defense attorney and a senior Department of Justice attorney make him ideal for the Ninth Circuit. We commend President Trump on his selection of Patrick, adding much-needed diversity to the federal judiciary.”
Nulud added, “We look forward to seeing the impact he will make not only on the bench but also on the community.”