November 15, 2023

Van Hollen, Cardin Praise Biden Nominee Nicole Berner for U.S. Court of Appeals for 4th Circuit Maryland Seat

Senators had recommended Nicole Berner to President Joe Biden

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today praised President Joe Biden’s nomination of Maryland attorney Nicole Berner to fill a vacant Maryland seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

“Throughout her career, Nicole Berner has provided outstanding legal representation to advance the rights of working families and historically underrepresented communities — demonstrating her commitment to delivering equal justice to all. Her diverse legal experience shows that she is dedicated to the rule of law, fairness, and the principles of democracy, which is why I enthusiastically support her nomination to serve the American people on the Fourth Circuit. As the first openly LGBTQ nominee for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Nicole would also break glass ceilings in our judicial system. We look forward to advancing her nomination through the Senate,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Nicole Berner has been fighting for civil rights and worker rights throughout her career and we are excited to have her bring this experience and deep knowledge of the law to the federal bench in Maryland. As the general counsel of the 2-million-member strong Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Ms. Berner oversees their legal work in complicated areas of the law, including labor, healthcare regulation, and immigration. With this background, I am confident that she will uphold the judicial oath to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’” said Senator Cardin. “I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with Ms. Berner recently and was pleased to hear that she intends, if confirmed, to have her judicial chambers in the Baltimore Courthouse to better be a part of the diverse and vibrant Maryland legal community.”   

Ms. Berner has been nominated to fill the vacancy created when Judge Diana Gribbon Motz took senior status in September 2022. Judge Motz was appointed to the Fourth Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is one of twelve regional appellate courts within the federal judicial system and sits just below the United States Supreme Court.  The Fourth Circuit is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, and hears appeals from nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and from federal administrative agencies.


Nicole G. Berner is General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she has practiced as in-house counsel since 2006. Previously, Ms. Berner served as a staff attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, D.C. from 2004 to 2006. She worked as a litigation associate at Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, D.C. from 2000 to 2004 after working as a visiting attorney at Yigal Arnon & Co. in Jerusalem, Israel, from 1999 to 2000. Ms. Berner served as a law clerk for Judge Thelton E. Henderson on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California from 1997 to 1998 and for Judge Betty B. Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1996 to 1997. She received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her M.P.P. from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. She received her B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988.

Berner is a longtime resident of Montgomery County, Maryland.  She has been an active member of her synagogue and community, and lives with her wife in Takoma Park, Maryland.