The Senate has unanimously (98-0) confirmed Todd Hughes to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. With Hughes on the bench, the Federal Circuit will now have a full-bench of twelve judges in addition to six judges with senior status. Although not a patent litigator, Hughes has apparently argued more cases at the Federal Circuit than any other attorney based upon his long career in the commercial litigation branch of the Department of Justice. No date has been announced for his swearing-in. However, Chief Judge Rader prefers to take action quickly and I expect that Judge Hughes will be hearing cases within the next few weeks.
Hughes is the first openly gay judge to be confirmed for any Federal appellate court. The 98-0 confirmation decision suggests that no senator has a principled reason for rejecting judicial candidates based upon their sexual orientation.
Congratulations Judge Hughes!