AFSCME applauds nomination of Nicole Berner to federal appeals court in Virginia

Our union applauds the nomination of longtime Service Employees International Union (SEIU) lawyer, Nicole Berner, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In a statement last week, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “We need more labor lawyers on the federal bench, and there are few labor lawyers more effective than Nicole Berner. As general counsel for SEIU, Berner has gone to bat for working people to ensure they had a voice in the legal system to stand up for their rights. Thanks to her relentless efforts, millions of people have dignity on the job and safer, more equitable workplaces.”

Berner has worked at SEIU since 2006 and is currently their general counsel. Having a union-side lawyer like Berner on the federal bench will help ensure that workers and their families, not just the wealthy and privileged, receive equal justice.

While there are many lawyers in the federal judiciary with experience representing corporations, there are too few with experience fighting to uphold workers’ rights. Berner would also be the first openly LGBT judge on the Fourth Circuit.

“We are confident that Berner will take her experience in the labor movement with her to the Fourth Circuit,” Saunders said, “where she will add much-needed diversity of experience to the bench. We applaud President Biden for nominating her, and we call on the Senate to confirm her without delay.”

The Fourth Circuit appeals court, based in Richmond, Virginia, is one 12 courts of its kind in the country. It hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies.