BETH ROBINSON is an American lawyer and judge from Vermont born on this date. She has served as an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011.
Robinson is a United States Circuit Judge–Designate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Robinson was born in Karachi, Pakistan and was raised in Indiana. In 1982, she graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. While at Brebeuf, Robinson was a member of the basketball and tennis teams, the French club, and the orchestra. She won honors in mathematics contests and won the Optimist’s Club’s oratorical contest. At graduation, Robinson was named a National Merit Scholar. In 1986, Robinson received her Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and government from Dartmouth College, and she graduated summa cum laude. During 1985, she spent a semester abroad as a student at the University of Edinburgh.
Robinson graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1989, and was admitted to the Order of the Coif. While in law school, Robinson was a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and then served as an associate editor.
After graduating from law school, Robinson was a law clerk for federal judge David B. Sentelle. She was employed for 18 years at Langrock, Sperry & Wool, a law firm with offices in Burlington and Middlebury. While there, she worked on issues of workers’ compensation, personal injury, constitutional law and, most prominently, gay and lesbian rights.
Robinson served as co-counsel in the case of Baker v. State, the landmark 1999 decision that led to Vermont becoming the first state to enact civil unions. She was subsequently involved in the 2009 legislative battle to enact same-sex marriage, chairing Vermont Freedom to Marry and working closely with Peter Shumlin, a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage, who was then president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate.
In addition to practicing law, Robinson has also taught at the college level. She was a senior lecturer at Dartmouth College during the 2006 summer term and again during the 2009 spring term. Robinson served as a justice of the peace for the town of Ferrisburgh from 2003 to 2011. In 2008, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and pledged to support Hillary Clinton.
On August 5, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Robinson to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. President Biden nominated Robinson to the seat vacated by Judge Peter W. Hall, who took senior status in March 2021. In September 2021, a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. During Robinson’s confirmation hearing, she faced questioning from Republican Senators over her views on religious freedom. As a lawyer in private practice, she had represented a woman who sued a local print shop for refusing to print cards for an organization called Vermont Catholics for Choice. The owners of the print shop, who were Catholic, said they did not believe Catholics could support abortion. In October 2021, her nomination was reported out of committee by a 10–9 vote. On November 1, 2021, her nomination was confirmed in the United States Senate by a 51–45 vote. She is the first openly gay female to serve on any federal circuit court.