Nadler, Jerrold Lewis

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NADLER, JERROLD LEWIS (1947– ), U.S. congressman, lawyer, and activist. Born in Brooklyn, n.y., to Emanuel and Miriam, Nadler was raised as an Orthodox Jew. He attended the Crown Heights Yeshiva and then Stuyvesant High School. He holds an A.B. from Columbia College, where he was a Pulitzer scholar and co-founded a youth activist group called "West Side Kids" that sought better housing and education for Manhattan's West Side, supported liberal political candidates, and opposed the Vietnam War. He also holds a J.D. from Fordham University. Nadler's varied positions within Congress have included committees and subcommittees on transportation, the environment, and law. He is widely regarded as one of the most liberal members of Congress, representing one of the most liberal districts in the United States.

After serving in the New York State Assembly for 16 years, Nadler was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, filling the seat of Ted Weiss who had died in office. He was elected to his seventh term in 2004. Nadler is best known as a defender of civil rights and civil liberties, efficient transportation options, affordable health care and housing, support for the arts, and defense of the Social Security system. Nadler has been an outspoken supporter of some of politics' most sensitive issues, including reproductive rights and sexual orientation discrimination. An expert in transportation issues, Nadler has worked with New York City officials to relieve congestion of major arteries, enhance bus and ferry routes, and improve subway access.

Nadler's commitment is tied to his constituents, those residents of the 8th Congressional District of New York, which is considered one of the most diverse districts in the nation; the district is also known as having one of the largest Jewish communities in any congressional district. Nadler has been a constant supporter of the Jewish community, authoring the bill granting federal tax exemptions on settlements received by Holocaust survivors, working to improve African American–Jewish relations, and backing federal hate crimes legislation. He also represents the largest gay community in the United States and took forceful issue with President Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, adding that it also meant "don't get caught." He argued that it sanctioned bigotry in the United States, only changing the means by which it will be enforced.

Nadler acted as a staunch and vocal advocate of efforts to clean up the contaminants left behind in the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks and the subsequent buildings' collapse. Nadler's immediate reaction to the attacks in 2001 was to help coordinate aid and supplies to residents and to help secure funds for victims; following that he worked for funding for community development and small businesses. He then focused on air quality, and called attention to what he felt was negligence by the Environmental Protection Agency (epa) in allowing residents to return to their homes near the collapse site, citing unsafe levels of environmental contaminants.

[Lisa DeShantz-Cook (2nd ed.)]