William Haskell Alsup

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William Haskell Alsup
William Alsup District Judge.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Assumed office
August 17, 1999
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Thelton Henderson
Personal details
Born William Haskell Alsup
1945 (age 72–73)
Jackson, Mississippi
Education Mississippi State University (B.S.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Harvard University (M.P.P.)

William Haskell Alsup (born 1945) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Alsup received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics[2] from Mississippi State University in 1967, a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1971, and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1971.

He was a law clerk to Justice William O. Douglas of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1971 to 1972.[3] Alsup was in private practice in San Francisco, California from 1972 to 1978, and was then an Assistant to the United States Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice from 1978 to 1980. He returned to his private practice in San Francisco from 1980 to 1998 with Morrison & Foerster, when he briefly served as a special counsel in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice in 1998. He was again in private practice in San Francisco from 1998 to 1999.[4]

Tenure as Federal Judge[edit]

On March 24, 1999, Alsup was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California vacated by Thelton Henderson.[4] Alsup was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30, 1999, and received his commission on August 17, 1999.

Notable cases[edit]

Alsup was the presiding judge over Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc.,[5] where he notably was able to comment on issues relating to coding and programming languages, specifically Java. He learned the Java programming language solely for the purpose of being able to understand the case more clearly.[6] However, the Federal Circuit overturned his rejection of the copyrightability of Java API.[7]

Alsup was also the presiding judge in what is believed to be the first trial against the U.S. no-fly policy, which is a list of people who cannot use commercial aircraft in the United States. Regarding the removal of people incorrectly included in the list, he ruled that, "[t]he government's administrative remedies fall short of such relief and do not supply sufficient due process."[8]

In March 2017, Judge Alsup made a referral to federal prosecutors after Anthony Levandowski exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination regarding stealing technology from Google's Waymo to found a self driving startup called Otto, then selling it to Uber six months later for $680 million.[9] In May 2017, Judge Alsup ordered Levandowski to refrain from working on Otto's Lidar and required Uber to disclose its discussions on the technology.[10]

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals[edit]

In September 2017, Judge Alsup was assigned four cases by parties suing to halt President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by Barack Obama.[11] On December 20, the Supreme Court unanimously issued an opinion urging Judge Alsup to consider arguments by the Trump administration that ending DACA was within executive authority and is not reviewable by federal courts.[12]

On January 9, 2018, he granted a temporary injunction halting President Trump's rescission of DACA.[13]

Awards and recognition[edit]

2013: Tara L. Riedley Barristers Choice Award, Bar Association of San Francisco
2013: Award of recognition from Lewis and Clark Law School.[14]


  1. ^ "Alsup, William [WHA] - United States District Court, Northern District of California". www.cand.uscourts.gov. 
  2. ^ Dotinga, William (May 17, 2012). "Oracle & Google Debate Road Map". Courthouse News. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Supreme Court Historical Society - Journal of Supreme Court History". supremecourthistory.org. Retrieved 2016-06-22. 
  4. ^ a b "Alsup, William [WHA] | United States District Court, Northern District of California". www.cand.uscourts.gov. Retrieved 2016-06-22. 
  5. ^ Gershman, Jacob. "Google and Oracle Agree Not to Research Jurors Online Ahead of Major Trial". WSJ. Retrieved 2016-06-22. 
  6. ^ Garling, Caleb (May 15, 2012). "Oracle Goes for Broke in Court Battle With Google". Wired. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc., May 9, 2014 Fed Cir. Retrieved on May 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "U.S. judge rules against government in no-fly challenge". 14 January 2017 – via Reuters. 
  9. ^ Wakabayashi, Daisuke; Isaac, Mike (31 March 2017). "Uber Executive Invokes Fifth Amendment, Seeking to Avoid Potential Charges". The New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  10. ^ Isaac, Mike (16 May 2017). "Uber Engineer Barred From Work on Key Self-Driving Technology, Judge Says". The New York Times. p. B1. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  11. ^ Levine, Dan (2017-09-03). "U.S. judge aims to quickly decide lawsuits over DACA". Reuters. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  12. ^ Liptak, Adam (2017-12-20). "Justices Return Dispute over DACA Documents to Lower Court". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  13. ^ de Vogue, Arienne (2018-01-10). "Judge blocks Trump administration plan to roll back DACA". CNN. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  14. ^ United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit 2013 Annual Report


Legal offices
Preceded by
Thelton Henderson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California