United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Committee Members:
On behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and its 4,000 circuit, state, and local affiliate members across the country, we write to express our organization’s strong support for the nomination of Myrna Pérez to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
NELA is the largest professional membership organization in the country comprised of lawyers who represent workers in labor, employment, and civil rights disputes. Founded in 1985, NELA advances employee rights and serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace. Our members litigate daily in every federal district and circuit, affording NELA a unique perspective on how employment cases play out on the ground and an accurate understanding of the profound impact of the judiciary on the daily lives and the rights of working people.
The working people of our nation need and deserve judges who will protect the rights of all Americans and our democracy. The ballot box is a critical place where working people have a voice. Ms. Pérez has devoted her career to the principle at the heart of our democracy: that the right to vote is fundamental. She has spent her career working to ensure that every American can have an equal voice in elections.
Ms. Pérez’s legal career has been impressive, and she is eminently qualified to serve as an appellate judge; she has extensive experience litigating all aspects of complex cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. Ms. Pérez has served as counsel in more than 50 cases across the country, including before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal circuit courts of appeal. She has also played a central role preparing six amici curiae briefs to the Supreme Court.
Ms. Pérez was born in San Antonio to parents who immigrated from Mexico and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She received a B.A. from Yale University in 1996, an M.P.P from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1998, and graduated from Columbia Law School in 2003. After receiving her law degree, Ms. Pérez clerked for Judge Anita B. Brody on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Judge Julio M. Fuentes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
If confirmed, she would be one of only two Latino judges serving on the Second Circuit, and the first Latina to serve on the federal bench since Justice Sonia Sotomayor was elevated to the Supreme Court. Latinos make up only 8 percent of active federal judges in the nation, and to achieve fair courts for all, our courts must reflect the communities they serve. Ms. Pérez’s nomination is long overdue and is a critical step toward ensuring our courts reflect the diversity of the communities that engage with them.
Among her cases, Ms. Pérez represented Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, among others, in a lawsuit against a Florida law that removed voters from rolls for minor discrepancies in registration records. The law disproportionately harmed Latino voters due to common naming conventions such as including accents and hyphens. Ms. Pérez helped the plaintiffs secure a preliminary injunction that allowed more than 14,000 otherwise eligible citizens to have their names placed back on the rolls in time for Florida’s presidential primary. Ms. Pérez also successfully persuaded a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a district court ruling striking down a Texas photo identification law passed with the intent to discriminate against African American and Latino voters.
Ms. Pérez has dedicated her career to safeguarding the rights of Americans to vote. As the head of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Election Program, she served as counsel in more than 50 cases in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal circuit courts of appeal. As a legal academic and advocate, Ms. Pérez has studied and understands the importance of ensuring free and fair elections for all and the freedom to vote.
Ms. Pérez also has significant experience in academia. From 2013 to 2015, she served as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law, where she taught a student seminar on Policy Advocacy and supervised student clinical work. She has been a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School since 2016, teaching seminars on election law and civil rights lawyering.
Her extensive experience as a litigator and legal academic make her extraordinarily qualified to serve on the Second Circuit. In addition, Ms. Pérez’s background in voting rights and election law is especially notable, as civil rights lawyers are broadly underrepresented on the federal bench.
Ms. Pérez has exemplary qualifications and an extraordinary background. The working people who are your constituents deserve no less. We urge the Senate to expeditiously confirm Myrna Pérez to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Laura M. Flegel
Legislative & Public Policy Director
Jeffrey A. Mittman