Nicole Berner’s Historic Confirmation Strengthens Our Courts and Democracy

Courts News 03.19.24

Contact: Patrick McNeil, [email protected]

WASHINGTON Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Nicole Berner to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:

“The civil rights community celebrates Nicole Berner’s historic confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Ms. Berner is a brilliant lawyer who has defended and advanced our civil and human rights, including the rights of working people, reproductive rights, and the rights of LGBTQ people. Her commitment to equal justice is evidenced throughout her life and legal career, and we look forward to her service on the bench.

“Ms. Berner also becomes the first openly LGBTQ person to ever serve on the Fourth Circuit and just the third openly LGBTQ woman to serve on any federal appellate court in the nation. Her confirmation adds crucial lived experience to the court and sends a powerful signal to young LGBTQ lawyers, law students, and other potential future judges that they belong on the federal bench. That matters. And it matters because the demographic and professional diversity she brings to the bench is woefully underrepresented on our federal courts and helps to improve judicial decision-making, build public trust, and strengthen our democracy. 

“We thank Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for their leadership, and we are grateful to President Biden, Chair Durbin, and Leader Schumer for moving Ms. Berner’s nomination forward. Critical progress like this must accelerate, especially as we live in an era of unprecedented threats to our democracy and our civil rights — many which are resolved in our federal courts. We the majority need and deserve a future in America filled with equal justice, and that means filling every judicial vacancy with diverse nominees who are committed to civil and human rights. Time is of the essence, and the important work of building an equal justice judiciary that reflects, represents, and works for all people must continue apace.”

With Ms. Berner’s confirmation, President Biden has now tied President Obama’s record of appointing 11 openly LGBTQ judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. To learn more about openly LGBTQ lifetime judges throughout our nation’s history, read our fact sheet here.

Read The Leadership Conference’s letter in support of the confirmation of Nicole Berner.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit