Seth P. Waxman

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Seth Waxman
41st Solicitor General of the United States
In office
November 13, 1997 – January 20, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byDrew S. Days III
Succeeded byTheodore Olson
Personal details
Born (1951-11-28) November 28, 1951 (age 70)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Yale University (JD)

Seth Paul Waxman (born November 28, 1951) is an American lawyer who served as the 41st Solicitor General of the United States from 1997 to 2001. He then returned to private legal practice, and serves as the co-chairman of the appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice group at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Early life[edit]

Waxman was born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut. His family is Jewish and lived in West Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Conard High School in 1969.[1] Waxman then attended Harvard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in social studies in 1973. Afterwards, Waxman spent a year in Kenya as a Rockefeller Fellow. Waxman then attended Yale Law School, where he became managing editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1977.


After law school, Waxman spent one year as a law clerk to Judge Gerhard A. Gesell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Thereafter, he entered the private practice of law with the boutique law firm Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin (now part of Baker Botts), where he specialized in complex criminal, civil, and appellate litigation. Waxman has received substantial recognition for his pro bono work, including the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico award and the Anti-Defamation League's Benjamin N. Cardozo Certificate of Merit.

Waxman joined the United States Department of Justice in May 1994. Prior to being appointed solicitor general, he served in a number of other positions in the Department of Justice, including acting solicitor general, acting deputy attorney general, principal deputy solicitor general, and associate deputy attorney general.

Waxman made the oral argument to the Supreme Court on behalf of the petitioners in Boumediene v. Bush, in which the court upheld habeas corpus rights for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.[2] Waxman also made oral arguments to the Supreme Court regarding arbitrary application of FCC sanctions on public nudity. In these arguments he used the friezes decorating the courtroom to illustrate how some nudity is acceptable in a public setting.[3]

Waxman also made the oral argument to the Supreme Court on behalf of the respondent in Roper v. Simmons, in which the court held that the execution of minors was unconstitutional under the cruel and unusual clause of the 8th Amendment.[4]


Waxman has long been active in Bar, community and school organizations. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the ABA's Standing Committee on Professionalism, a current and past ex officio member of several committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States, an ex officio member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the Visiting Committee for Harvard College.

Personal life[edit]

Waxman is married with three children—Noah, Sarah and Ethan—and makes his home in the District of Columbia, where he practices law as a partner with the law firm WilmerHale.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mindell, Cindy (1 April 2014). "Seth Waxman journeys from West Hartford to the Supreme Court and (briefly) back". Jewish Ledger.
  2. ^ Wilmer Hale press release "Supreme Court Rules that Guantanamo Detainees Have Constitutional Right to Habeas Corpus | WilmerHale". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2008-06-14., retrieved on June 13, 2008.
  3. ^ Slate report [1], retrieved on January 11, 2012.
  4. ^ "Roper v. Simmons". Oyez. Retrieved 2022-06-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by