Nicole Berner speaking at American Constitution Society virtual symposium on The Future of Labor Law in a Post-COVID Economy on Dec. 22, 2020. (American Constitution Society screenshot)

Biden Nominates First LGBTQ Candidate for 4th Circuit

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Service Employees International Union General Counsel Nicole Berner to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Maryland lawyer would become the first LGBTQ judge to serve on the court, which is located in Richmond, Va., and has appellate jurisdiction over district courts in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Berner was previously a staff attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a litigation associate at the law firm Jenner & Block.

U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, both from Maryland, had recommended Berner for the position and issued a joint statement following the president’s announcement of her nomination.

“Throughout her career, Nicole Berner has provided outstanding legal representation to advance the rights of working families and historically underrepresented communities — demonstrating her commitment to delivering equal justice to all,” Van Hollen said.

“As the first openly LGBTQ nominee for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Nicole would also break glass ceilings in our judicial system,” said the senator. “We look forward to advancing her nomination through the Senate.”

Cardin said, “As the general counsel of the 2-million-member strong Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Ms. Berner oversees their legal work in complicated areas of the law, including labor, healthcare regulation and immigration.”

He added, “With this background, I am confident that she will uphold the judicial oath to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich.’”

Story courtesy of the Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: