Garden Staters Against O'Hearn

Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez

Christine O'Hearn has been nominated to become the newest federal district court judge in New Jersey. Her career accomplishments rest on defending discrimination and preventing unionization. Our Senators delayed the filling of this vacancy for 2 years, while Donald Trump was still in office. Even still, they have encouraged the nomination of a lawyer who is the opposite of what the Biden Administration has called for: “individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life.” We must show our senators we are paying attention, and ask them to reconsider their support of O'Hearn and put forth candidates to the Biden Administration who have used their careers to serve the public interest and preserve the civil rights of New Jerseyans and people everywhere.


Petition by
Esme Devenney
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To: Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez
From: [Your Name]

Dear Senators Booker and Menendez,

As an elected representative of our great state of New Jersey, it is my expectation and hope that the decisions and suggestions you make on behalf of New Jerseyans are always made with the best interest of New Jerseyans at heart. This expectation and hope applies to the judicial nominees you support and recommend to the Biden Administration for appointment. It is incredibly concerning and disappointing to know that you fully supported and encouraged the nomination of Christine O’Hearn to become the newest federal district court judge in New Jersey. As someone whose legal career has been dedicated to anti-union and anti-worker practices and defending corporations committed to trampling over workers’ rights, Christine O’Hearn is not the best of New Jersey and is not someone who has put the people of New Jersey first.

According to her firm’s website, “O’Hearn… represents employers in union related matters including matters before the National Relations Labor Board such as petitions for certification, elections, and unfair labor practices as well as collective bargaining negotiations, grievances, and arbitration.” The firm website states that “our attorneys have particular expertise in representing corporate and public entities in both union and non-union settings. We are experienced in defending employers in state and federal courts.” This type of work that attorneys, including O’Hearn, practice means that they spend their careers opposing worker efforts to gain and maintain collective bargaining power in the workplace. It means that they make it more difficult for workers to work in spaces and places that will implement fair workplace policies and practices. It means that they do everything they can to make workers feel powerless and small.

Despite being touted as a champion for women and workers, it is clear that O’Hearn is quite the opposite and actually more of the same. In addition to mostly representing employers against employees, O’Hearn also represented Gloucester Township Schools in a suit brought by Black children who detailed pervasive and consistent racism from teachers and administrators. In A v. Gloucester Twp., the alleged facts included multiple teachers calling students derogatory names like the n-word and “tar baby,” blocking students from participating in extracurricular activities because of their race, assigning failing grades to a student that were inconsistent with the grades received on the respective assignments, and calling the plaintiffs’ mother the n-word after she reported the incidents of racism to school officials. With a judiciary that is overwhelmingly composed of former corporate and management side attorneys, O’Hearn’s nomination does nothing to balance or repair a judiciary steeped in corporate interests and is harmful to workers and future litigants who may very well be trying to defend their civil rights in the workplace before a Judge O’Hearn. There is value in professional diversity and ensuring that our federal bench starts to reflect the everyday people who have been disadvantaged by it the most. That means consistently suggesting and nominating public interest attorneys, legal aid lawyers, public defenders, and civil rights litigators to the bench.

I ask that you strongly reconsider your support of this nominee and moving forward, put forth candidates to the Biden Administration who have used their careers to serve the public interest and preserve the civil rights of New Jerseyans and people everywhere.