Biden nominates Marylander to 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, would be first openly LGBTQ member on that court

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The White House said Wednesday it is nominating Nicole G. Berner, a labor lawyer from Takoma Park in Montgomery County, to the federal appeals court overseeing Maryland cases.

If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first openly LGBTQ judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a White House release that also announced four other federal judge appointees.


The 4th Circuit is based in Richmond, Virginia, and hears appeals from federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Berner is general counsel to the Service Employees International Union. She previously served as a staff attorney for Planned Parenthood.


Her work includes acting as counsel for the union’s amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Affordable Care Act, the health care law known as “Obamacare,” in 2018.

She would fill a slot open because Diana Gribbon Motz, a former Baltimore lawyer, stepped down in 2022 to become a senior judge, meaning she has a limited case load.

In 2021, Joe Biden’s first full year as president, the White House said in a statement that the federal bench “should reflect the full diversity of the American people — both in background and in professional experience.”

Initial nominees included three Black women picked for U.S. Circuit Court vacancies.

Berner “is diverse in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ideology and experience,” University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said in an interview.

According to the White House, 154 nominees have been confirmed since Biden took office in 2021. It said two-thirds are women and two-thirds are people of color.

Other nominees announced Wednesday included appellate attorney Adeel Mangi to the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He would be the first Muslim judge to serve on a circuit court.