Neal Katyal

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Neal Katyal
Neal Katyal portrait.jpg
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
In office
June 9, 2011 – August 26, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Leondra Kruger (Acting)
Succeeded by Sri Srinivasan
In office
February 3, 2009 – May 17, 2010
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Daryl Joseffer
Succeeded by Leondra Kruger (Acting)
Solicitor General of the United States
In office
May 17, 2010 – June 9, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Elena Kagan
Succeeded by Donald Verrilli
Personal details
Born Neal Kumar Katyal
(1970-03-12) March 12, 1970 (age 44)
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Yale Law School
Profession Lawyer
Religion Hinduism

Neal Kumar Katyal (born March 12, 1970) is an American lawyer and chaired professor of law. He served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States from May 2010[1] until June 2011. As Acting Solicitor General, Katyal succeeded Elena Kagan, who was President Barack Obama's choice to replace the retiring Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.[2] Katyal was the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University Law Center and the lead counsel for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions."

While serving at the Justice Department, he has argued numerous Supreme Court cases, including his successful defense (by an 8-1 decision) of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the landmark case, Northwest Austin v. Holder. He also successfully argued in favor of the constitutionality of President Obama's health care bill and unanimously won a Supreme Court case defending former Attorney General John Ashcroft against alleged abuses of civil liberties in the war on terror. Katyal was also the only head of the Solicitor General's office to argue in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Early life and education[edit]

Katyal was born in the United States on March 12, 1970, to Indian immigrant parents. His mother is a pediatrician and his father, who died in 2005, was an engineer. Katyal's sister, Sonia Katyal, is also an attorney; she teaches law at Fordham University. He was born in a Hindu household and studied at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Catholic school in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated in 1991 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and the Dartmouth Forensic Union. In 1990 and 1991, while a member of the Dartmouth Forensic Union, he reached the semi-final round of the National Debate Tournament, college's national championship tournament. He then graduated from Yale Law School in 1995.[3] At Yale, Katyal studied under Akhil Amar and Bruce Ackerman, with whom he published articles in law review and political opinion journals in 1995 and 1996. After graduating, Katyal clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and then Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.


Katyal served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department in 1997-1999, and was commissioned by President Bill Clinton to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as Vice-President Al Gore's co-counsel in Bush v. Gore of 2000, and represented the deans of most major private law schools in Grutter v. Bollinger, the University of Michigan affirmative-action case that the Supreme Court decided in 2003.

He was named "Lawyer of the Year" by Lawyers USA for 2006, Runner Up for "Lawyer of the Year" by National Law Journal, one of the top 50 Litigators in the nation by the American Lawyer Magazine, one of the 30 best living Supreme Court advocates by Washingtonian Magazine, one of the 90 Greatest Lawyers over the Last 30 Years by Legal Times, and was awarded the 2004 Pro Bono Award by the National Law Journal.

He appeared on The Colbert Report on July 26, 2006;[4] June 17, 2008;[5] and February 27, 2013. [6]

His brother-in-law is Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic.

He is now a partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells, where he runs the appellate practice previously run by John Roberts. Katyal worked for Roberts at Hogan in the 1990s.

On May 24, 2011, speaking as Acting Solicitor General, he delivered the keynote speech at the Department of Justice's Great Hall marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Developing comments he had posted officially on May 20,[7] Katyal issued the Justice Department's first public confession of its 1942 ethics lapse in arguing the Hirabayashi and Korematsu cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, which had resulted in upholding the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent. He called those prosecutions - which were only vacated in the 1980s - blots on the reputation of his Office, which the Supreme Court explicitly considers as deserving of "special credence" when arguing cases, and "an important reminder" of the need for absolute candor in arguing the United States government's position on every case.[8] Katyal continues to make public appearances, lecturing on this among other topics.[9]

For the U.S. Supreme Court's October 2014 term, Katyal will argue on behalf of United States Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration whistleblower, Robert MacLean[10] in Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean, Docket Number 13-894.[11]


  • NPR, Nina Totenberg's summary of Katyal's efforts, on 2006, September 5. 'Hamdan v. Rumsfeld': Path to a Landmark Ruling. [1]
  • Georgetown University Law Center faculty profile, containing a link to his publications, awards and cases argued [2].
  • Website maintained by Hamdan's defense team, including counsel profiles and briefs [3].
  • Vanity Fair March 2007 profile about Katyal and Hamdan case [4]
  • Legal Times July 31, 2006, Cover Story, "Katyal's Crusade: How an Overachieving Law Professor Toppled the President's Terror Tribunals" [5]
  • Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, July 2006, Cover Story "A Patriot's Act" [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajghatta, Chidanand (May 19, 2010). "PIO Neal Katyal poised to become US solicitor general". The Times of India. Times News Network. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ Law Prof Who Proposed US Court to Try Gitmo Detainees Gets DOJ Nod, ABA Journal, January 21, 2009.
  3. ^ Katyal, Neal Kumar. "Curriculum vitae". Georgetown University Law Center. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (July 26, 2006). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (June 17, 2008). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (February 27, 2013). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ from "The Justice Blog" on the U.S. Department of Justice website (retrieved May 24, 2011) "Confession of Error: The Solicitor General’s Mistakes During the Japanese-American Internment Cases"
  8. ^ Savage, David G. (May 24, 2011), "U.S. official cites misconduct in Japanese American internment cases", The Los Angeles Times 
  9. ^ For example, Fordham Law School announcement (retrieved February 3, 2012) "The Solicitor General and Confession of Error: The Hirabayashi Case" 3/08/2012
  10. ^ Sforza, Teri (May 24, 2014). "Supreme Court takes Ladera man's whistleblower case". Orange County Register. 
  11. ^ "Proceedings". Retrieved June 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Daryl Joseffer
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by
Leondra Kruger
Preceded by
Leondra Kruger
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by
Sri Srinivasan
Preceded by
Elena Kagan
Solicitor General of the United States

Succeeded by
Donald Verrilli