March 26, 2024

Adam Shah

Jobs With Justice congratulates Judge Nicole Berner and calls for more judges like her 

Jobs With Justice is thrilled that President Biden has appointed former SEIU General Counsel and Jobs With Justice board member Nicole Berner to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, one step below the Supreme Court. 

President Biden nominated Judge Berner last year, and the Senate confirmed her nomination this week. Judge Berner is a passionate advocate for working people and will be a superb addition to the federal bench. Judge Berner has never been afraid to stand up for what was right – whether it meant calling out billionaire CEOs who trampled on workers’ rights or encouraging allies to strive for justice – through all her work, Judge Berner has demonstrated a keen intellect and extensive legal knowledge. 

This appointment comes at a particularly important moment. Billionaire corporate leaders such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Trader Joe’s Bryan Palbaum are actively trying to tear down our democratic institutions, including the remaining legal protections for workers who organize. The federal judiciary needs people like Judge Berner who have seen first-hand the difficulties workers face when trying to organize.

Judge Berner will, however, join a federal bench that has vanishingly few judges with a similar legal background to hers. More than 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy appointed Arthur Goldberg, who had been a union lawyer and U.S. Secretary of Labor to the Supreme Court. Since that time, we have seen presidents of both parties appoint thousands of federal judges whose primary legal experience was representing corporate CEOs and their companies. But we have seen next to no federal judges who have experience as union lawyers. 

Jobs With Justice commends President Biden for breaking this pattern and appointing Judge Berner. We also commend the 50 senators who voted to confirm her to the seat (although the vote should have been unanimous). We call on President Biden to make appointments of people with backgrounds such as Judge Berner’s the norm rather than the exception. 

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