Nadler was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Miriam (Schreiber) and Emanuel Nadler. He spent part of his childhood on a farm in New Jersey before returning to Brooklyn for the remainder of his childhood.
He attended Crown Heights Yeshiva and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1965. Nadler received his B.A. degree from Columbia University in 1969 and his law degree from Fordham while serving in the New York State Assembly in 1978.
He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 1992 where he was the author of most of the State’s body of law on domestic violence and child support enforcement. In 1985, he ran for Manhattan Borough President. He lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins. In the general election, he ran as the New York Liberal Party nominee, and was again defeated by Dinkins. In 1989, he ran for New York City Comptroller but was defeated in the Democratic primary.
In 1992, Ted Weiss was expected to run for re-election in the 8th District, which had been renumbered from the 17th after the 1990 U.S. Census. However, Weiss died a day before the primary election. Nadler was nominated to replace Weiss. He ran in two elections on Election Day – a special election to serve the rest of Weiss’s term, and a regular election for a full two-year term. He won both handily, and has been reelected with no substantive opposition ever since, winning most recently in 2018. The district was renumbered as the 10th District after the 2010 census.
The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Nadler served as Chairman or Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for 13 years and also served as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.
Nadler has been on the front lines in the fight for civil rights, and has been a relentless defender of our country’s fundamental promise of equality for all. He has been a leader in the fight to protect voting rights and reduce voter disenfranchisement. Nadler has also taken an active role in working against discriminatory racial profiling by law enforcement.
A Vice-Chair and founding member of the House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus, Nadler has been an original co-sponsor of every major piece of LGBT civil rights legislation for the last twenty-plus years.
Nadler has played a significant role in the fight for women’s rights, serving as a central figure in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the author of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. He is also a staunch defender of women’s health, including a woman’s constitutional right to access an abortion.
As a nationally recognized leader on civil liberties, Congressman Nadler has fought for protections against unwarranted government interference in our personal affairs. In 2015, he was one of four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to author the bipartisan USA Freedom Act – ending the collection of bulk data by the NSA – the passage of which represented the first significant reform of government surveillance carried out by the federal government since 1978.
Nadler serves as a champion in the House for free speech and free expression. He is one of Congress’s most vocal defenders of the separation of church and state and of Americans’ right to exercise their religion freely.
From his days as Chair of the Committee on Mass Transit and Rail Freight in the New York State Assembly, to his current position on the House Transportation Committee, Congressman Nadler has long been considered a key expert and leading voice on transportation issues. His entire career in public service has been spent working to increase funding for important transportation and infrastructure projects that move both people and goods
After the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which stood in the Congressman’s district, Nadler led the fight in Congress and at the White House to secure $20 billion for recovery work. He also led the fight for a more comprehensive cleanup.
Nadler is a staunch support of Israel and has often been a leader on the key issues of ever-strengthened U.S.-Israel cooperation and U.S. foreign aid. As representative of the largest and most diverse Jewish community in any congressional district in the United States, Nadler has also been an outspoken leader against anti-Semitism and continues to lead a variety of efforts to stymie the growing anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish rhetoric and campaigns which seek to delegitimize Israel on the world stage
Nadler represents one of the main tech-hubs of the East Coast—also known as Silicon Alley—and is viewed as a fierce promoter for the technology industry. As a strong proponent of net neutrality, he has long opposed pay-to-play agreements, as well as blocking and discrimination of content, and has urged the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers.
Nadler is a leading member of the Congressional Arts Caucus and created “Americans for the NEA,” which brought pro-arts advocates from around the country to Washington to lobby against attempts to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He has also consistently fought for funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He has helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for New York’s arts and cultural institutions, including Lincoln Center, the Met, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of African Art, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, and many more institutions across the district.
Nadler has a long and distinguished record working to reduce gun violence, as the author of bills improving the ban on assault weapons and preventing the sale of firearms to sex offenders. He also has been a strong voice on climate change and environmental justice.
Nadler lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his wife, Joyce Miller. They have one son, Michael.