President-elect Barack Obama ’91 has nominated Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan ’86 to be the 44th solicitor general of the United States. The appointment was announced by the Obama Transition Team today.
In addition to Kagan, two other Harvard Law School graduates were nominated to high-ranking Department of Justice positions.
David Ogden ’81, a partner at WilmerHale in Washington D.C., was named deputy attorney general. Tom Perrelli ’91, managing partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington, D.C. office, was named associate attorney general.
“These individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times,” said President-elect Barack Obama ‘91. “I have the fullest confidence that they will ensure that the Department of Justice once again fulfills its highest purpose: to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
The task of the Office of the Solicitor General is to supervise and conduct government litigation in the United States Supreme Court. Virtually all such litigation is channeled through the Office of the Solicitor General and is actively conducted by the Office. The United States is involved in approximately two-thirds of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the merits each year.
Kagan is currently the Dean of Harvard Law School and the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law at the School. She first came to Harvard Law School as a visiting professor in 1999 and became Professor of Law in 2001. She has taught administrative law, constitutional law, civil procedure, and seminars on issues involving the separation of powers. She was appointed Dean of the Law School in 2003.
From 1995 to 1999, Kagan served in the White House, first as Associate Counsel to the President (1995-96) and then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99). In those positions she played a key role in the executive branch’s formulation, advocacy, and implementation of law and policy in areas ranging from education to crime to public health.
She launched her scholarly career at the University of Chicago Law School, where she became an assistant professor in 1991 and a tenured professor of law in 1995. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986 to 1987. The next year she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. She then worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly from 1989 to 1991. Kagan received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Princeton in 1981. She attended Worcester College, Oxford, as Princeton’s Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Fellow, and received an M. Phil. in 1983. She then attended Harvard Law School, where she was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude in 1986.
Kagan is the first woman nominated for the position of solicitor general. She will join a long line of solicitors general with ties to Harvard Law School. HLS’s Beneficial Professor of Law Charles Fried held the post during the Reagan administration, from 1985 to 1989. Erwin Griswold ’28, dean of Harvard Law School from 1946 to 1967, was solicitor general under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Longtime faculty member Archibald Cox ’37 joined the Kennedy administration as solicitor general in 1961 and served until 1965, into the Johnson administration.
In addition to Griswold and Cox, five other HLS alumni have held the post. Charles E. Hughes Jr. ’12 was appointed by President Hoover and held the position from 1929 to 1930. Francis Biddle ’11 was solicitor general before President Roosevelt nominated him to be attorney general of the United States in 1941. Walter J. Cummings Jr. ’40 served as solicitor general during the transitional period between the presidencies of Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Wade H. McCree ’44 was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, and served until 1981. Most recently, Paul Clement ’92 held the job from 2005 to 2008.
Ogden is currently a partner at WilmerHale and serves as the Department of Justice Agency Review lead for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. He was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division in 1999 and served in this capacity until 2001. He was awarded the Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in 2001. From 1998 to 1999, he served as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Janet Reno and as Counselor to the Attorney General from 1997-1998. From 1995 to1997, he served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, and from 1994 to1995 served as Deputy General Counsel, Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense. Ogden was a partner at Jenner and Block in Washington, DC from 1988 to1994 and worked at the law firm of Ennis Friedman & Bersoff from 1983 to1988. He clerked for Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun in the U.S. Supreme Court from 1982 to1983 and for Judge Abraham D. Sofaer in the Southern District Court of New York from 1981 to1982. He received his B.A. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 (summa cum laude) and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1981 (magna cum laude). He served on the Harvard Law Review from 1979 to 1981.
Perrelli is currently Managing Partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office. He is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Entertainment and New Media Practice and is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department. From 1997 to 1999, he served as counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, supervising a variety of civil matters at the Department of Justice. He subsequently rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General (1999-2001), supervising the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division. In 2005, Perrelli was named one of the nation’s 40 most promising lawyers under 40 by The National Law Journal for exhibiting “extraordinary achievements” in his career. He has been recognized as one of the leading media and entertainment lawyers in the United States by Chambers & Partners USA, named as one of 500 “New Stars” by Lawdragon in 2006, and named Best Intellectual Property Lawyer in Washington D.C. by the Washington Business Journal in 2008. Prior to joining Jenner & Block, in 1991-92, Perrelli clerked for the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Perrelli graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1991, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received an A.B. in History from Brown University in 1988.