On November 29th, Squire Patton Boggs was proud to host Congressman David Cicilinne and the National Trans Bar Association at a reception in its Washington DC office. The reception honored the following morning's swearing-in of the first ever group of trans lawyers to the bar of the United States Supreme Court. While other trans lawyers had previously practiced before that Court, never before had an entire group been admitted to practice. Within today's climate of rising anti-trans activism, the ceremony was timely.
The group ceremony aimed to follow the example set by Justice Sotomayor who wrote, in her memoir, My Beloved World, that “[m]y purpose in writing is to make my hopeful example accessible." The inductees sworn-in with the National Trans Bar Association group reflect the importance Justice Sotomayor emphasized of the representation of otherwise disenfranchised and marginalized groups in the various communities of power. The inductees come from both world's the Justice Sotomayor wrote about most: academia and the law.
- Zsea Ofure Bowmani, a professor of law from Ohio
- Rook Elizabeth Ringer, a private practitioner from Florida
- Jesse Lee Ann McGrath, a senior deputy district attorney in California
- Harper Jean Tobin, a public policy attorney and consultant from the District of Columbia
- Ames Barton Simmons, a Duke law professor and a public policy attorney in Washington D.C.
- Sandy Evan James, a public policy attorney from Maryland
- Carl Solomon Charles, a public policy Attorney from New York
- Gene Michael Wissinger, a partner at a New York law firm
- James Christopher Knapp, a private practitioner from Ohio
- Alexander Chen, a professor of law at Harvard in Massachusetts
As Squire Patton Boggs partner and member of the firms' LGBTQ+ employee resources group, Rafael M. Langer-Osuna noted, Wednesday's inductees were there, as trans and non-binary attorneys, "to claim the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with the highest-level legal practitioners and to be seen as colleagues practicing before the highest court in the land."
The NTBA's purpose, to represent trans lawyers at the highest echelons of the legal profession, dovetails with a long tradition at Squire Patton Boggs of civic participation and standing shoulder to shoulder as lawyers and citizens. That spirit is well-summarized by Squire Patton Boggs' late colleague Congressman Louis Stokes, who was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a civil rights leader. As Congressman Stokes once remarked, “I’m going to keep on denouncing the inequities of this system, but I’m going to work within it. To go outside the system would be to deny myself—to deny my own existence. I’ve beaten the system. I’ve proved it can be done—so have a lot of others.” At Squire Patton Boggs, Congressman Stokes continued to work for his community and to help Black and other diverse lawyers engage with the highest levels of state and national government.
The spirit of cooperation and civic engagement is also part of what inspired the late Tom Boggs and James Patton, who remain two of three named partners of the firm. Tom Boggs and James Patton stood together as Democrat and Republican; they stood side by side as colleagues and lawyers. Squire Patton Boggs, through its Public Policy Group, continues today that tradition of working within the system in a bipartisan way to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, including by honoring these NTBA lawyers working together at the highest level.
NTBA co-chair Kristen Browde, who coordinated the Wednesday event, and co-founder Alexander Chen spoke about the significance of the swearing-in event. The Tuesday night event was then concluded with remarks by Congressman Cicilline recognizing the importance of the swearing in ceremony. As Congressman from the First District of Rhode Island and as Chairman of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, Congressman Cicilline understands better than most the importance of representation in the law.