Biden nominee Natasha Merle confirmed as next EDNY judge

June 23, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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In a tension-filled confirmation that forced Vice President Kamala Harris to play a pivotal role, civil rights attorney Natasha Merle was confirmed on Wednesday as President Biden’s 100th District Court nominee.

Split along party lines, Merle’s confirmation vote saw a dramatic climax as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks, while Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina abstained from voting. This 50-49 decision required Harris’s intervention to break the tie and initiate the final confirmation vote.

“Ms. Merle is an extraordinary and dedicated attorney who devoted her career to advancing equal justice,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Our legal system will be well served by her sharp legal mind, exceptional understanding of federal law and demonstrated commitment to civil rights.”

Merle’s record, honed during her tenure at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund where she served as deputy director of litigation since 2021, was put under intense scrutiny. Her focus on the impact of voter ID laws on communities of color was a point of contention during the Senate nomination hearing, with Louisiana Senator John Kennedy challenging her 2017 views on the subject.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

This confirmation sets a significant milestone for President Biden. Merle’s successful nomination, hot on the heels of Julie Rikelman’s confirmation to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, marks the President’s 136th total Article III appointment.

Merle is a prominent civil rights attorney who joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) in 2016. She has spearheaded significant lawsuits such as LDF et al. v. Trump et al., challenging the racially discriminatory “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.” She also played a crucial role in Buck v. Davis, leading to the reversal of Duane Buck’s racially-biased death sentence. Before joining the LDF, Merle worked for various prestigious legal organizations. She is a cum laude graduate from New York University School of Law and holds membership in both the New York and Texas State Bars.


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