Edward Whelan (American lawyer)

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Ed Whelan
Martin Edward Whelan III

1960 (age 58–59)
EducationHarvard University (BA, JD)
OccupationPresident of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Blogger for National Review

Martin Edward Whelan III (born July 26, 1960)[1] is an American lawyer, legal activist and political commentator. Whelan's legal career included clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and deputy assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration. Since 2004, he has served as the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy".

In 2018, Whelan was as an advisor to Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation effort for the U.S. Supreme Court. Whelan came under intense criticism when, in response to an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, he published on Twitter a speculative theory that Kavanaugh may have been a victim of mistaken identity, and proceeded to publicly name a private citizen, whom Whelan implied was a doppelganger of Kavanaugh in the process of raising doubts about whether Kavanaugh was guilty was singled out as a severe lapse of judgment. Whelan apologized the next day, and the EPPC announced that Whelan would be taking a leave of absence. [2] [3] [4]

Early life and education[edit]

Whelan was born in Los Angeles, California, to attorney Martin Edward Whelan II and Nancy Carolyn Mispagel.[5] Whelan graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1981 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.[6] In 1985, he earned a J.D. degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and also was on the Board of Editors of the Harvard Law Review.[6]


From 1985 until 1986, Whelan worked as a law clerk to United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace.[6] From 1991 until 1992, Whelan worked as a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.[6]

In the 1990s, Whelan served as general counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary while it was controlled by Republicans. He also has worked as a lawyer in private practice and was Senior Vice President and Counselor to the General Counsel for Verizon Corporation.[6]

From 2001 until 2004, Whelan served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, advising the White House Counsel's Office, the Attorney General and other senior DOJ officials, and Departments and agencies throughout the executive branch on difficult and sensitive legal questions.

In 2004, Whelan became president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit think tank that is based in Washington, D.C. He directs the EPPC's program on the United States Constitution, federal courts and culture.

In 2016, Whelan gave his opinion in an interview reported by The New York Times. Whelan asked conservatives to adopt an uncompromising stance on appointments to the upper ranks of the U.S. judiciary, including appeals courts (which give the last word on cases the U.S. Supreme Court declines to review, and which can serve as a "breeding ground" for future Supreme Court justices).[7]

Kavanaugh Nomination[edit]

In 2018, Whelan helped advise his close friend Brett Kavanaugh, a federal judge, in the latter's nomination effort to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.[8] On September 16, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape her in the early 1980s when they were teenagers.[9]

Whelan drew considerable criticism when he attempted to defend conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh, then involved in contentious hearings following his nomination to the Supreme Court. Shortly before a scheduled Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination, an allegation emerged that Kavanaugh had committed a sexual assault as a teen. With assistance and information supplied from Creative Response Concepts Public Relations, a conservative public relations firm[10], Whelan tweeted that the alleged victim's allegation against Kavanaugh may have been a case of mistaken identity. Whelan went so far as to identify an individual that Ford might have confused for Kavanaugh, but he also emphasized in his tweet thread that he was not charging that the individual committed any wrongdoing: "To be clear, I have no idea what, if anything, did or did not happen...and I therefore do not state, imply, or insinuate that the [named individual] or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges."[11] After facing ridicule for his reasoning and criticism for what was regarded as a smear of a private citizen, he apologized a day later for an "appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment".[3][12]


In May 2005, Whelan began blogging at the National Review's website.[13]

In June 2009, Whelan sparked a controversy in the blogosphere when he publicly divulged the name of a pseudonymous legal blogger in a post entitled "Exposing an Irresponsible Anonymous blogger".[14] Whelan apologized to the blogger for the disclosure,[15] and the blogger accepted Whelan's apology.[16]


  1. ^ California Birth Index, 1905-1995
  2. ^ Garber, Megan (September 21, 2018). "The Magical-Thinking Defenses of Brett Kavanaugh". The Atlantic. Boston, Massachusetts: Emerson Collective. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Coaston, Jane (September 21, 2018). "Conservative activist Ed Whelan apologizes for insinuating a Kavanaugh doppelgänger assaulted Ford". Vox.com. New York City: Vox Media. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  4. ^ eppc.org: Statement from EPPC’s Board of Directors
  5. ^ Los Angeles Times, Daily Pilot, September 2015, Obituary of Martin Edward Whelan II
  6. ^ a b c d e "Edward Whelan". Ethics and Public Policy Center.
  7. ^ Savage, Charlie (February 15, 2016). "Before Scalia's Death, a Clash Between G.O.P. and Obama Over Appellate Judges". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Kim, Seung Min; Dawsey, Josh; Brown, Emma (September 20, 2018). "Kavanaugh accuser won't testify Monday but open to doing so later next week". The Washington Postpublisher=Nash Holdings LLC. Washington DC. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  9. ^ Brown, Emma (September 16, 2018). "California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault". The Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/ed-whelan-just-showed-what-brett-kavanaughs-defense-will-look-like-and-metaphorically-set-himself-on-fire. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Kavanaugh accuser won’t testify Monday but open to doing so later next week
  13. ^ "Ed Whelan Archive". National Review Online. New York City: National Review Inc. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  14. ^ Phelan, Ed (June 6, 2009). "Exposing an Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger". National Review Online. New York City: National Review, Inc. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  15. ^ Whelan, Ed (June 8, 2009). "My Apologies to Publius". National Review Online. New York City: National Review Inc. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  16. ^ "Obsidian Wings: Moving On". Obsidianwings.blogs.com. June 9, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2011.

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