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
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byLeondra Kruger (acting)
Succeeded bySri Srinivasan
In office
February 3, 2009 – May 17, 2010
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byDaryl Joseffer
Succeeded byLeondra Kruger (acting)
Acting Solicitor General of the United States
In office
May 17, 2010 – June 9, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byElena Kagan
Succeeded byDonald B. Verrilli Jr.
Personal details
Neal Kumar Katyal

(1970-03-12) March 12, 1970 (age 50)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic[1]
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Yale University (JD)

Neal Kumar Katyal (born March 12, 1970) is an American lawyer and partner at Hogan Lovells, as well as Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University Law Center.[2][3] During the Obama Administration, Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States from May 2010[4] until June 2011. Previously, Katyal served as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office, and as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Justice Department.

Katyal has argued more Supreme Court cases than any other minority lawyer in American history.[5] In 2017, American Lawyer Magazine named Katyal its coveted Grand Prize Litigator of the Year for both the 2016 and 2017 years.[6] A self-described "extremist centrist"[7], Katyal supported Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court[8][9].

Early life and education[edit]

Katyal was born in the United States on March 12, 1970, to immigrant parents originally from India.[10] His mother is a pediatrician and his father, who died in 2005, was an engineer. Katyal's sister Sonia is also an attorney and currently teaches law at University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He studied at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Catholic high school in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated in 1991 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Nu fraternity and the Dartmouth Forensic Union.[11] 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.

Katyal then attended Yale Law School.[11] In law school, Katyal was an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and studied under Akhil Amar and Bruce Ackerman, with whom he published articles in law review and political opinion journals in 1995 and 1996. After receiving his J.D. degree in 1995, Katyal clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and then Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.


President Bill Clinton commissioned him to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work.[12] In 1999 he drafted special counsel regulations, which have guided the Mueller investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.[13] He also represented Vice-President Al Gore's as 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.

While serving at the Justice Department, Katyal argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, including his successful defense (by an 8-1 decision) of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Northwest Austin v. Holder.[14] Katyal also successfully argued in favor of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and won a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court defending former Attorney General John Ashcroft against alleged abuses of civil liberties in the war on terror in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd. Katyal is also the only head of the Solicitor General's office to argue in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.[15]

As Acting Solicitor General, Katyal succeeded Elena Kagan, whom President Barack Obama chose to replace the retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.[16]

On May 24, 2011, speaking as Acting Solicitor General, Katyal 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,[17] Katyal issued the Justice Department's first public confession of its 1942 ethics lapse in arguing the Hirabayashi and Korematsu cases in the US 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.[18] Katyal also lectured at Fordham Law School concerning that decision.[19]

Katyal was critical of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[20] While teaching at Georgetown University Law Center for two decades,[3] Katyal was lead counsel for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), which held that Guantanamo military commissions set up by the George W. Bush administration to try detainees "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions."[21]

Upon leaving the Obama Administration, Katyal returned to Georgetown University Law Center, but also became a partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells.[22] He specializes in constitutional law, national security, criminal defense and intellectual property, as well as running the appellate practice once run by John Roberts. During law school Katyal clerked one summer at Hogan Lovells, where he worked for Roberts before Roberts's nomination to the US Supreme Court.[23]


Katyal appeared on The Colbert Report on July 26, 2006;[24] June 17, 2008;[25] and February 27, 2013.[26] He appeared on a 2015 episode of the US television drama House of Cards, portraying himself, and arguing before the Supreme Court on behalf of a US citizen maimed by a drone strike.[27]

Katyal endorsed President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in an op-ed to The New York Times.[28] When that newspaper's public editor criticized the op-ed for failing to disclose Katyal had active cases being considered by the Court, Katyal responded that it would have been obvious he always has cases being heard by the Supreme Court.[29] Katyal formally introduced Judge Gorsuch at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.

In addition to Gorsuch, Katyal also spoke highly of President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.[30] In multiple tweets that were cited by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation,[31] Katyal praised Kavanaugh's "credentials [and] hardworking nature,"[32] and described his "mentoring and guidance" of female law clerks as "a model for all of us in the legal profession."[33] Katyal has also described Kavanaugh as "very gracious"[34] and "incredibly likable."[35] “It’s very hard for anyone who has worked with him, appeared before him, to frankly say a bad word about him,” Katyal observed during a July 2018 panel on Kavanaugh's nomination sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank.[36] Katyal's comments in support of Kavanaugh were made prior to Christine Blasey Ford's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.

Honors and awards[edit]

The US Justice Department awarded Katyal the Edmund Randolph Award, the highest honor the Department can bestow on a civilian. The National Law Journal named Katyal its runner-up for "Lawyer of the Year" in 2006 and in 2004 awarded him its Pro Bono award.[37][38] American Lawyer Magazine considered him one of the top 50 litigators nationally.[39] Washingtonian Magazine named him one of the 30 best living Supreme Court advocates;[40] Legal Times (jointly owed by American Lawyer Media) profiled him as one of the "90 Greatest Lawyers over the Last 30 Years".

Personal life[edit]

Katyal is married to Joanna Rosen, a doctor of Jewish American heritage.[41][42] His brother-in-law is Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic.[43] His sister Sonia Katyal is the Chancellor's Professor of Law and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley.[44]


  • Katyal, Neal (November 26, 2019). Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump. Mariner. ISBN 978-0358391173.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shiffman, John. "The Echo Chamber".
  2. ^ "Profile Neal Katyal — Georgetown Law".
  3. ^ a b "Prof. Neal K. Katyal". Archived from the original on 2014-12-09.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "BigLaw partner breaks a record held by Thurgood Marshall". ABA Journal. Debra Cassens Weiss. Retrieved 2017-12-01.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "Neal Katyal Named The Litigator of the Year by American Lawyer". Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  7. ^ Haniffa, Aziz. "Neal Katyal emerges as the most consequential interpreter of Robert Mueller's investigation". Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  8. ^ Katyal, Neal K. (2017-01-31). "Opinion | Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  9. ^ March 21, Tony Mauro |; PM, 2017 at 04:34. "Why Did Neal Katyal Go an Extra Mile for Neil Gorsuch?". Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  10. ^ Furlong, Lisa. "Neal Kumar Katyal '91 A litigator on arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court". Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.
  11. ^ a b Katyal, Neal Kumar. "Curriculum vitae" (PDF). Georgetown University Law Center. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Remarks to Representatives of the Legal Community" (PDF). Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. U.S. Government Publishing Office. 35 (29): 1430. 20 July 1999. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  13. ^ Katyal, Neal K. (2019-02-21). "Opinion | The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here's What to Expect". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  14. ^ "Neal Katyal's Sentimental Send-Off".
  15. ^ Frankel, Alison (April 1, 2011). "Gene Case Brings Out a Big Gun". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  16. ^ Law Prof Who Proposed US Court to Try Gitmo Detainees Gets DOJ Nod, ABA Journal, January 21, 2009.
  17. ^ Katyal, Neal (May 20, 2011). "Confession of Error: The Solicitor General's Mistakes During the Japanese-American Internment Cases". U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Savage, David G. (May 24, 2011), "U.S. official cites misconduct in Japanese American internment cases", The Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Fordham Law School announcement (retrieved February 3, 2012) "The Solicitor General and Confession of Error: The Hirabayashi Case" 3/08/2012
  20. ^ Neal Kumar Katyal and Laurence Tribe, Waging War, Deciding Guilt: Trying the Military Tribunals, 111 Yale L.J. 1259 (2002).
  21. ^ Neal Katyal, The Supreme Court, 2005 Term — Comment: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The Legal Academy Goes to Practice, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 65 (2006). Archived at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 September 2015)
  22. ^ "Neal Katyal". 4 August 2015.
  23. ^ Lat, David. "Neal Katyal: The Paris Hilton of the Legal Elite?".
  24. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (July 26, 2006). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  25. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (June 17, 2008). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  26. ^ Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (February 27, 2013). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  27. ^ "IMDB page". Internet Movie Database. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  28. ^ Katyal, Neal K. (31 January 2017). "Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  29. ^ Spayd, Liz (2 February 2017). "Arguing for a Judge Today, and Before Him Tomorrow". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  30. ^ "On the Question of Judicial Temperament | RealClearPolitics".
  31. ^ "Even Liberal Legal Experts Admit Judge Kavanaugh Is 'A Superstar' | Republican Leader".
  32. ^ Katyal, Neal (July 9, 2018). "Given J.Kavanaugh's credentials,hardworking nature&much more, it would be such a difft confirmation process if for a difft seat (like Justice Thomas') or if he were nominated by a difft President (like, any of them who weren't subjects of criminal investigations + multiple suits)".
  33. ^ Katyal, Neal (July 13, 2018). "Regardless of where one stands on the Kavanaugh nomination, this is 100% right. I've seen it myself many times firsthand with his former clerks. His mentoring and guidance is a model for all of us in the legal profession. … via @TheNLJ". External link in |title= (help)
  34. ^ "Former Obama Solicitor General Calls Kavanaugh 'Brilliant Jurist,' 'Exemplary' Judge". August 2, 2018.
  35. ^ "Wednesday Q+A With Neal Katyal". National Journal.
  36. ^ comment, 2018 / Leave a (July 10, 2018). "Washington Lawyers Give Court Pick Kavanaugh Rave Reviews". The Daily Signal.
  37. ^ Press release (December 18, 2006). "The Nat w Journal Selects Libby Defense Lawyer Theodore Wells as 2006 Lawyer of the Year," National Law Journal ("The (National Law Journal) also named Neal K. Katyal and Carter G. Phillips as this year's runners-up.") Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  38. ^ Barnes, Robert (May 17, 2010). "44: Politics and Policy Blog," Washington Post. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  39. ^ "The Young Litigators Fab Fifty 11-20" (January 1, 2007). American Lawyer.
  40. ^ Staff (November 5, 2015). "Washington, DC's Best Lawyers: Supreme Court," Washingtonian. Retrieved February 22, 2017
  41. ^ Morrow, Brendan (2017-03-08). "Neal Katyal: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  42. ^ Nayar, K. P. (2009-05-03). "Indian is Obama's tech czar". Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  43. ^ "Brandeis's Seat, Kagan's Responsibility". The New York Times. 4 July 2010.
  44. ^ "Sonia Katyal". Berkeley Law.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Don Verrilli
Preceded by
Leondra Kruger
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by
Sri Srinivasan