Beth Brinkmann

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Beth Brinkmann
Personal details
Born (1958-09-24) September 24, 1958 (age 59)
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of California,

Yale University

Beth S. Brinkmann (born September 24, 1958) is an American lawyer who served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice, heading up the appellate staff in the DOJ's Civil Division during the administration of President Barack Obama. She also served as the Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States from 1993 until 2001. Brinkmann has argued more than 20 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court both in that role and in her later role as a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the firm Morrison & Foerster. Currently, Brinkmann is a partner at the Covington & Burling law firm in Washington, D.C.[1]

Early professional career[edit]

Brinkmann graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1980 with a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1985. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in 1986 and also clerked for appeals-court judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Brinkmann worked from 1991 until 1993 as an assistant federal public defender in Washington and worked for four years as an associate with the small San Francisco litigation firm of Turner & Brorby.

Work in the Solicitor General's office[edit]

Brinkmann became Assistant to the Solicitor General of the U.S. in December 1993 and argued her first case before the Supreme Court on March 23, 1994.[2] "Every time you go up there, it is amazing, and an honor and privilege being there. You also feel very patriotic—at least I do," Brinkmann told the National Journal in 2002.[3]

In 1996, after arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Brinkmann and her boss, Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, received a letter from Chief Justice William Rehnquist informing them that brown was not an appropriate color for the skirt suit that she had worn while recently arguing a case before the justices.[4] According to the Legal Times, Dellinger wrote back to Rehnquist explaining that no "sartorial norm" had been established for women in the office of the Solicitor General since not enough women had worked in the office for long enough.[5]

Private practice[edit]

After leaving the Solicitor General's office, Brinkmann joined Morrison & Foerster in early 2002. As a partner at Morrison & Foerster and the chair of the firm's Appellate Practice Group, Brinkmann continued to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In a November 20, 2007 article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Brinkmann told the paper that she had argued 22 cases before the Supreme Court in her career. Eighteen of those times were as a staff lawyer in the Solicitor General's office, Brinkmann told ABA Journal in an article that ran in the magazine's March 2005 issue.[6]

Work in the Obama administration[edit]

On April 3, 2009, Brinkmann announced that she had been tapped to join the United States Department of Justice as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General heading up the Appellate staff in the DOJ's Civil Division.[7] After Obama left office, Brinkmann joined the law firm of Covington & Burling.[8]

Possible future federal judicial service[edit]

In the March 12, 2008, issue of The New Republic, writer Jeffrey Rosen floated Brinkmann's name as a future federal appeals-court judge or Supreme Court justice, likening her to Chief Justice John G. Roberts by suggesting her as a possible "Democratic female John Roberts". Rosen also characterized Brinkmann as "moderate, pragmatic and pro-business".[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]