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 Carolyn Lerner to serve as an Article I judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC.
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.
We write today to commend Carolyn Lerner to you as an exemplary nominee for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. As Ms. Lerner testified to during her recent hearing, she would bring the skills of even-handedness and neutrality with her to the bench. Raised in Detroit, an honors graduate of the University of Michigan (1986), Ms. Lerner graduated from New York University Law School (1989) and then clerked for Chief Judge Julian Cook, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (1991). Since then, she has lived and practiced in the DC area (MD) where she has focused on bringing, deciding, or resolving claims against the U.S. government.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which decides claims against the U.S. government, is a perfect match for Ms. Lerner’s dogged pursuit of fairness in legal matters involving employees and contractors with the U.S. government. When practicing law, she worked to protect employees from abuse and protect whistleblowers from retaliation, exposing those who would dare to defraud the U.S. government or abuse its privileges. In 2011, the Senate previously and without dissent confirmed her to serve as the U.S. Special Counsel where she tirelessly investigated the government and fought to protect federal employees, contractors, and government resources from misuse and abuse. Notably, while Special Counsel in 2016, Ms. Lerner demonstrated her neutrality when she determined that then-HUD Secretary Julian Castro violated the Hatch Act by promoting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy during a TV interview. Most recently, she has served with quiet acclaim as Chief Circuit Mediator for the federal courts of the D.C. Circuit. Due to her record of bi-partisan decision-making, dedication to government fairness and neutrality, especially when faced with brave whistleblower activity, and her litigation-related experience in federal courts, NELA urges widespread support and confirmation.
The working people of our nation need and deserve judges who will protect the rights of all Americans and our democracy. The Court of Federal Claims deserves a judge familiar with protecting whistleblowers’ rights and federal employees’ rights, in particular. As such, Ms. Lerner is eminently qualified to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. We urge the Senate to expeditiously confirm Carolyn Lerner to the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Laura M. Flegel
Legislative & Public Policy Director
Jeffrey A. Mittman