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First federal LGBTQ+ judge to take the bench in Virginia

A person wearing a blue suit poses for a photo
LNJ Designs Photo
The U.S. Senate confirmed Jamar Walker as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. Walker is the state's first openly gay federal judge

Jamar Walker, 35, has worked as a federal prosecutor in Alexandria since 2015.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Tuesday President Joe Biden’s nomination of Virginia’s first openly gay federal judge.

Jamar K. Walker, 35, will replace Judge Raymond A. Jackson in the Norfolk division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Jackson, who was the first Black federal judge to serve in South Hampton Roads, is taking senior status, which means he’ll oversee fewer cases after serving nearly three decades on the bench.

Walker, who is also Black, has worked as a federal prosecutor in Alexandria since 2015, specializing in financial and public corruption crimes. He clerked for Jackson in the Eastern District after graduating from University of Virginia’s law school in 2011.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said it’s important to have all perspectives represented on the bench.

“Diversity is an important dimension of being a federal judge,” he said. “Bill Clinton, who appointed Jackson, and President Biden have been instrumental in emphasizing diversity in terms of ethnicity, in terms of gender, in terms of sexual orientation and in terms of experience and ideology.”

Tobias said Walker is well-suited to the Norfolk division.

“Very sophisticated criminal cases are brought there, the federal judges tell me. That will be important because that’s what I think Walker has been working on in Alexandria,” Tobias said. “They get many cases from the military installations down there.”

In a near party-line vote, the Senate voted 52-41 to approve Walker. Biden originally nominated Walker for the bench in July 2022 at the recommendation of Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

In the letter to the president, the senators noted Walker co-founded a Committee on Race, Policing, and Prosecution in the EDVA U.S. Attorney’s office and that he’s a member of the Old Dominion Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the Department of Justice Association of Black Attorneys and DOJ Pride.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.