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Judge Stephen A. Vaden

Adjunct Professor of Law
U.S. Court of International Trade

Stephen Alexander Vaden serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of International Trade following his confirmation by the United States Senate on November 18, 2020, and appointment by President Donald J. Trump on December 21, 2020.

Before joining the court, Judge Vaden served as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Judge Vaden supervised more than 250 legal professionals in thirteen offices across the United States who handled all legal matters on behalf of a department with more than 100,000 employees and an annual budget approaching $150 billion. During his nearly four-year tenure as head of the Office of General Counsel, the department won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, relocated and reorganized the agencies that comprise the department to better serve rural America, engaged in substantial regulatory reform, developed new regulations to allow for the legal sale of hemp and the labeling of bioengineered products, and implemented the 2018 Farm Bill.  The department averaged more than 5,000 matters in litigation before federal legal and administrative tribunals at any one time.

Judge Vaden also served as a member of the Board of the Commodity Credit Corporation, a government corporation devoted to helping American agricultural producers.  During his tenure from 2017-2020, the Board developed programs to assist American producers affected by foreign trade barriers.

After law school, Judge Vaden was a law clerk for Judge Julia Smith Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

In the private sector, Judge Vaden worked for two law firms – Jones Day and Patton Boggs.  At both, Judge Vaden served as an appellate litigator and as part of the firms’ political law practices.  In this role, he counseled political candidates, donors, and others involved in the political process on compliance with the litany of federal and state laws that govern seeking and holding elective office.

A native of Union City, Tennessee, Judge Vaden grew up helping with his family’s farms and real estate ventures.