In 2020, upon the recommendation of Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Trump Administration nominated Jennifer Rearden to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Rearden was, however, not confirmed before the end of the Administration. She now has a second chance after being renominated by Biden.
50-year-old Jennifer Hutchison Rearden received her B.A. from Yale University in 1992 and a J.D. in 1996 from New York University School of Law. After law school, Hutchison joined Davis Polk & Wardwell, before moving to the Atlanta office of King & Spalding. Since 2003, Rearden has been a Partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York City.
History of the Seat
Rearden has been nominated to the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated on October 25, 2018 by Judge Richard Sullivan’s elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Rearden was previously nominated for this vacancy by President Trump on February 12, 2020 but was not confirmed by the Senate. Rearden was renominated by Biden on January 19, 2022.
Rearden has been an active political donor, having made over thirty political contributions over the last thirteen years. While Rearden has given to politicians of both parties (her Republican donees include Rudolph Giuliani and Chris Christie), most of her donations have been to Democrats. She has contributed particularly to female Democratic senators and senate candidates, giving them almost $12000 in the 2016 cycle.
Rearden has spent her entire career in private practice, working at various big law firms as a commercial litigator. Specifically, Rearden has handled a number of complex commercial cases, including matters related to tax, contract, and compliance matters.
Among her more prominent cases, Rearden represented Philip Morris Inc. and other tobacco companies in a suit against the City of New York challenging the City’s regulation of tobacco prices. She also represented Home Depot in an Arizona suit involving tax deductions.
Notably, Rearden argued in New York State Court a suit seeking Worker’s Compensation benefits for an employee’s domestic partner (through a civil union). The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court found, in a divided opinion, that statutory provisions supporting worker’s compensation benefits for surviving spouses did not cover partners in a civil union.
Rearden’s nomination has drawn criticism from Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her alleged role in the prosecution against Steven Donziger. Donziger, an environmental lawyer, had obtained a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron for environmental damages in Ecuador, leading to Chevron pulling their assets from that country and suing Donziger in New York for racketeering. The latter suit eventually led to criminal contempt charges when Donziger refused to follow a court order to surrender his electronic devices, arguing that they contained confidential client information. While Tlaib’s statement, a tweet by Donziger, and the related article suggests that Rearden was among the Gibson attorneys who sued Donziger, a search of the case documents does not show Rearden’s name. The key opinion instead identifies five other Gibson attorneys. Additionally, there appears to be no evidence on the case’s PACER record of Rearden entering an appearance in the case.
Rearden has been a fairly prolific author, frequently writing articles on various legal issues, including issues of civil practice, procedure, and substantive law.
For example, Rearden has written on the Columbia Pictures v. Bunnell ruling in the Central District of California, which held that random access memory (RAM) could be discoverable material that needed to be preserved in preparation for litigation. She has similarly expounded on a similar decision by Judge Shira Scheindlin on production of metadata during discovery.
While Rearden was not confirmed under Trump, she has a strong chance under the current Administration. While she is likely to draw the requisite opposition from the right that all Biden nominees are drawing, Rearden may also see some liberal opposition based on her time at Gibson Dunn and her perceived role in the Donziger prosecution.
 Center for Responsive Politics, https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?cand=&cycle=&employ=&name=Jennifer+rearden&order=desc&sort=D&state=&zip= (last visited Apr. 26, 2020).
 See id.
 See Profile, Gibson Dunn, https://www.gibsondunn.com/lawyer/rearden-jennifer-h/.
 See Nat’l Ass’n of Tobacco Outlets v. City of New York, 27 F. Supp. 3d 415 (S.D.N.Y. 2014).
 Home Depot USA, Inc. v. Ariz. Dep’t of Rev., 230 Ariz. 498 (Ariz. Ct. App. Div. 1 2012).
 Matter of Langan v. State Farm Fire & Cas., 48 A.D.3d 76 (N.Y. Sup. App. Div. 2007).
 See id. at 78-79.
 Zack Budryk, Tlaib Blasts Biden Judicial Nominee Whose Firm Sued Environmental Lawyer, The Hill, Jan. 21, 2022, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/590819-tlaib-blasts-biden-judicial-nominee-whose-firm-sued-environmental-lawyer.
 See id.
 See id.
 Jennifer H. Rearden and Farrah Pepper, Oh No, Ephemeral Data, N.Y. Law Journal, Mar. 22, 2010, https://www.gibsondunn.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/publications/Rearden-Pepper-OhNoEphemeralData.pdf.
 Jennifer Rearden, Farrah Pepper, and Adam Jantzi, Scheindlin’s ‘Day Laborer’ Decision: Much Ado About Metadata, Law Technology News, Feb. 22, 2011, https://www.gibsondunn.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/publications/Rearden-%20Pepper-%20Scheindlin%27s-Day-Laborer%27-Decision-LTN-2-22-11.pdf.