November 15, 2023 – President Joe Biden continued his commitment to reshaping the federal judiciary with groundbreaking nominations on Wednesday. The president nominated Nicole Berner, the general counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Simultaneously, he put forward Adeel Mangi, a Muslim American attorney and partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
If confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, Nicole Berner would make history as the first openly LGBTQ judge on the 4th Circuit. Similarly, Adeel Mangi’s confirmation would mark a significant milestone, as he would become the first Muslim American federal appellate judge.
President Biden’s nominations reflect a broader strategy to promote diversity within the federal judiciary. The administration has already seen the confirmation of the only two openly LGBTQ federal appellate judges. The decision to nominate Nicole Berner, a pro-union labor lawyer, aligns with growing calls for a bench that can address the rising tide of unionization efforts across various industries.
Nicole Berner, a former staff attorney at Planned Parenthood, has been a key figure in labor law, serving as the general counsel of SEIU since 2006. She is also a partner at the union-side labor law firm James & Hoffman. Married to Debra Katz, a prominent lawyer known for representing Christine Blasey Ford during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Berner brings a wealth of experience and legal insight to the nomination.
Adeel Mangi, originally from Pakistan, embarked on his legal career in 2000 and became a partner at Patterson Belknap in 2010. His notable cases include a successful legal challenge on behalf of Muslim communities in New Jersey seeking to establish mosques in Bernards Township and Bayonne. Mangi’s nomination underscores the administration’s commitment to religious diversity on the federal bench.
In addition to these appellate court nominations, President Biden also put forward three new district court judges in Oregon and Indiana. Notably, Gretchen Lund and Cristal Brisco, if confirmed, would become the first Black women on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Amy Baggio, a state court judge in Portland, Oregon, and former federal public defender, was also nominated to serve on Oregon’s federal bench.
President Biden’s dedication to diversity in judicial appointments is evident in the 154 lifetime federal judicial nominees who have already secured Senate confirmation. The majority of these appointees are women or people of color, contributing to a more inclusive and representative federal judiciary.
As these nominations progress through the Senate confirmation process, they signal a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to reshape the federal judiciary and ensure a bench that reflects the rich diversity of the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Who are the nominees?
President Biden nominated Nicole Berner, the general counsel of Service Employees International Union, for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Adeel Mangi, a Muslim American attorney and partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, was nominated for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
- What groundbreaking milestones do these nominations represent?
If confirmed, Nicole Berner would be the first openly LGBTQ judge on the 4th Circuit, while Adeel Mangi would make history as the first Muslim American federal appellate judge.
- How has Biden’s administration prioritized diversity in judicial appointments?
President Biden has already appointed the only two openly LGBTQ federal appellate judges. Additionally, the nomination of Berner aligns with calls for pro-union labor lawyers on the bench, addressing current unionization efforts and strikes in various industries.
- Who is Nicole Berner, and what is her background?
Nicole Berner, currently the general counsel of SEIU, has been a prominent figure in labor law, previously working at Planned Parenthood. Married to Debra Katz, a well-known lawyer, Berner’s nomination has received praise as a strategic and impactful choice.
- Tell us more about Adeel Mangi’s legal career.
Adeel Mangi, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, has a noteworthy career, including a successful legal challenge in New Jersey supporting Muslim communities seeking to establish mosques. His nomination marks a significant step toward greater religious diversity on the federal bench.
- How many lifetime federal judicial nominees has President Biden successfully confirmed? President Biden has secured Senate confirmation for 154 lifetime federal judicial nominees, with a notable majority being women or people of color.
- Why are the nominations in Oregon and Indiana crucial?
Biden nominated three new district court judges in Oregon and Indiana, aiming for a more balanced and representative judiciary. Notably, Gretchen Lund and Cristal Brisco’s nominations could lead to the first Black woman serving on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
- How has the legal community and advocacy groups responded to these nominations? Progressive group Demand Justice has lauded Nicole Berner’s nomination, considering her a “home run pick” and one of Biden’s best choices. The legal community recognizes the significance of these nominations in breaking barriers and fostering inclusivity.