Thomas J. Perrelli

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tom Perrelli
Thomas Perrelli USDOJ portrait.jpg
United States Associate Attorney General
In office
March 12, 2009 – February 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byKevin O'Connor
Succeeded byTony West
Personal details
Born (1966-03-12) March 12, 1966 (age 54)
Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationBrown University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Thomas John Perrelli (born March 12, 1966) is an American lawyer and the former United States Associate Attorney General. He served as Associate Attorney General during the administration of President Barack Obama. Perrelli also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States in the late 1990s.

Early life and education[edit]

As a high school senior at W.T. Woodson H.S., he was co-captain of the Fairfax All-County Math Team. He was a three time National Junior Classical League Certamen (Latin competition) champion. Also, his freshman year at Brown, 1984, he placed first in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition.[1][citation needed]

Perrelli earned his A.B., magna cum laude in History from Brown University in 1988, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Critical Review, Brown's student publication of course evaluations. Perrelli graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1991, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review, working under Barack Obama, who was President of the Harvard Law Review at the time.[2] Perrelli is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Virginia and District of Columbia courts and numerous other federal courts. Prior to joining Jenner & Block, in 1991-92, Perrelli clerked for the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.


Jenner & Block[edit]

Before joining the Obama administration, Perelli was managing partner of Jenner & Block's Washington office, Co-Chair of the firm's Entertainment and New Media Practice, and a member of the firm's Appellate and Supreme Court, Class Action Litigation, Health Care Law, Intellectual Property, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Media and First Amendment, and Telecommunications Practices. He was a member of the firm's Management Committee. He concentrated his practice on copyright, media, and constitutional litigation, as well as complex litigation with a public policy or regulatory component. In 2005, The National Law Journal listed him among the nation's 40 most promising lawyers under 40.[3]

Perrelli regularly represented the recording industry in intellectual property, technology, and anti-copyright-infringement litigation. He has represented the recording industry in a host of cases arising under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as well as in copyright infringement and digital piracy litigation.[citation needed] Since his return to Jenner and Block in 2001, Perrelli has also represented Democratic voters and elected officials in redistricting litigation arising out of the 2000 Census.[citation needed]

He represented Michael Schiavo (2003–2005) and won for him the right to terminate his wife's life support.[2] Perrelli was previously an associate at Jenner & Block from 1992-97.[citation needed]

Clinton administration[edit]

In 1997, Perrelli left Jenner & Block to join the Department of Justice and served as counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno. He subsequently rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General, supervising the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, which represents virtually every federal agency in complex civil litigation. In that role, Perrelli led a staff of 100 attorneys charged with defending the constitutionality of federal statutes, defending federal agency action and regulations, representing the diplomatic and national security interests of the United States in courts of law, and conducting significant Title VII, personnel and social security litigation.

Perrelli also supervised the Justice Department's Tobacco Litigation Team in its litigation against the major cigarette manufacturers. In addition, he played a leading role on significant policy issues ranging from medical records privacy and the use of adjusted figures in the census to Indian gaming and legal ethics.

Obama administration[edit]

Associate Attorney General Tom Perelli at a 2009 Pfizer Settlement Press Conference

On January 5, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Perrelli as the 18th Associate Attorney General of the United States.[4] He was confirmed by the United States Senate in a 72-20 vote on March 12, 2009.[5]

Perrelli ordered career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division to drop a civil case they had prepared (under the 1965 Voting Rights Act) against members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation at Philadelphia polling places in the United States elections, 2008.[6][7][8]

In February 2012, Perrelli resigned from his post as Associate Attorney General.[9]


  • "Defending Lanham Act Claims Against Expressive Works and Raising a Defense Based on the First Amendment," Media Law Resource Bulletin, January 2004
  • "Piracy Battles Online," Copyright World, February 2003
  • Deanne Maynard and Tom Perrelli, "9th Circuit Denies Dustin Hoffman's Publicity Claim," National Law Journal, C4, October 22, 2001
  • Case Note, "Search and Seizure -- Suspicionless Drug Testing," 103 Harvard Law Review 592, 1989
  • Case Comment, "Section 1983: Golden State Transit Corp. v. Los Angeles," 104 Harvard Law Review 339, 1990


  1. ^ Source: David Goldsmith, 1984 Fairfax Co. Math Teammate, opposing Certamen competitor, and Brown Class of '88.
  2. ^ a b "Thomas J. Perrelli profile at". National Journal. Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-08-20. Perrelli represented Michael Schiavo from 2003-05, the husband of Terri Schiavo. He fought for and eventually won Michael’s right to decide the fate of his ailing wife.
  3. ^ "Obama's Harvard Law Mafia". New Republic. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  4. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (January 5, 2009). "Obama Fills Top Justice Department Spots". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
  5. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes - Nomination of Thomas Perrelli,
  6. ^ Lucey, Catherine; Chris Brennan (January 8, 2009). "Feds Sue New Black Panthers Over Election Day Dispute". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2009-08-20. Remember these guys from the Nov. 4 general election? The U.S. Department of Justice does. The feds sued the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense today, accusing the organization of attempting to intimidate voters. The Justice Department is asking a judge for an injunction to prevent future "deployment" of New Black Panther members at polling places during elections. You can read the Department's full press release after the jump.
  7. ^ "Feds Suing "New Black Panther Party" for Philly Voter Intimidation". NBC. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. January 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20. The U.S. Justice Department is suing the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and three of its members over what authorities allege was Election Day voter intimidation in Philadelphia. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia alleges that two men intimidated voters Nov. 4 by standing outside a polling place at 1221 Fairmount Avenue wearing party uniforms. A video of the men, one holding a police-style baton weapon, was widely distributed on the Internet. The video can be seen below.
  8. ^ Seper, Jerry (July 30, 2009). "EXCLUSIVE: No. 3 at Justice OK'd Panther reversal. Case involved polling place in Philadelphia". Washington Times. Retrieved 2009-08-20. Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the No. 3 official in the Obama Justice Department, was consulted and ultimately approved a decision in May to reverse course and drop a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party of intimidating voters in Philadelphia during November's election, according to interviews. The department's career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division who pursued the complaint for five months had recommended that Justice seek sanctions against the party and three of its members after the government had already won a default judgment in federal court against the men. Front-line lawyers were in the final stages of completing that work when they were unexpectedly told by their superiors in late April to seek a delay after a meeting between political appointees and career supervisors, according to federal records and interviews.
  9. ^

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Kevin O'Connor
United States Associate Attorney General
Succeeded by
Tony West