Posts Tagged ‘Ted Olson’
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Ted Olson

Theodore Olson, former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, has signed onto Mississippi lawyer Paul Minor’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Olson, of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, filed a motion for a 60-day extension to file a petition for certiorari. He said more time was necessary because that the “honest services” law,  to which Minor’s convictions are tied, is under review by the Supreme Court in three cases this term.

Minor’s convictions on honest-services-based mail and wire fraud charges stem from a major judicial bribery investigation. A well-known plaintiffs lawyer, Minor was accused of making campaign loans to two state judges in return for favorable treatment in his cases before their courts.

The court’s decisions in the three honest services cases under review, Olson wrote, will affect the validity of the Minor’s convictions and his request for relief.

Olson said a Supreme Court review was necessary to answer whether federal prosecutors were required to prove a quid pro quo in Minor’s case because the alleged bribes were in the form of “constitutionally protected campaign contributions.” A federal district court, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, found that government need only prove the existence of a “corrupt agreement” under the honest-services statute.

The motion noted that Olson was “retained recently” to prepare the petition. If the court grants the extension, the cert petition would have to be filed by July 26.

The motion is embedded below.

Minor Extension Application (2)

Tags: , ,
Posted in News | Comments Off
Monday, January 11th, 2010

Newsweek profiles Ted Olson, who served as head of Office of Legal Counsel under President Ronald Reagan, advised Republicans in their efforts to impeach President Bill Clinton and served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush, and is now “the unlikeliest champion of gay marriage.”

This week, after months of preparation, he will argue on behalf of two gay couples in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a federal case challenging Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state.

Olson’s brief against Prop 8 is straightforward: laws banning gay marriage not only make no sense, they are unconstitutional. As a conservative, he says he believes in individual liberty and freedom from government interference in the private lives of citizens. Discriminating against people because of sexual orientation is a violation of both. “This case could change the way people think about one another,” says Olson. “We are forever putting people into this box or that box, instead of just seeing each other as human beings.”

Bush’s Solicitor General: Gay Marriage Is a Right – Newsweek.com.

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Tony Mauro on the BLT points out the problem with former Solicitor General Ted Olson arguing before the Supreme Court in September on behalf of Citizens United, the conservative group challenging aspects of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

In its 2003 McConnell v. Federal Election Commissioruling, the Court upheld the law’s restrictions on corporate and union spending intended to influence federal campaigns. Olson was President George W. Bush’s Solicitor General at the time, and he argued for the government in favor of upholding the restrictions.

Now, Olson has switched sides. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner is arguing against the law, officially known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

Mauro quotes Steve Lubet at Northwestern University School of Law, an expert in legal ethics, saying Olson has a unique obligation as a former SG to rise above advocacy — otherwise the SG “becomes just like any other lawyer,” Lubet told the BLT.

Olson sent Mauro a nimble email response saying, essentially, that the SG actually is like any other lawyer — a hired gun to argue positions for a client, even if he doesn’t personally believe in them. Read more of Olson’s response here.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

It’s fascinating how clubby the Washington legal community is.

I mean, here’s former Solicitor General Ted Olson, one of the key architects of the 1990s “vast right-wing conspiracy” against the Clintons. In January, he co-wrote a very nice letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee lavishing praise on former Clinton White House associate counsel Elena Kagan, nominated to be Solicitor General.

Now, strapping his ideological armor back on, the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner is preparing to square off against Kagan in September, when she makes her debut before the Supreme Court.

They will be arguing opposite sides of this issue: whether the conservative Citizens United advocacy group broke election law by using corporate contributions to distribute a sinister anti-Hillary video called “Hillary: The Movie” during last year’s presidential campaign.

Olson in the 1990s was in the middle of practically every effort by conservatives to pump up the scandals that almost drove Bill Clinton out of office. Just one example: Olson served on the board of the conservative American Spectator magazine, which spent more than $2 million for something called the “Arkansas Project,” to dig dirt on the Clintons. The Arkansas Project revealed Paula Jones to the world. The former Arkansas state employee’s claims of sexual harassment by then-Gov. Clinton came under investigation by Olson’s friend Ken Starr, the Whitewater special counsel. Starr’s probe led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Hillary going on television to denounce a “vast right-wing conspiracy” trying to bring the Clintons down, all of which ultimately culminated in Clinton’s impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

But that’s the story of Olson the ideological warrior. Then there’s the Olson who’s a wise and respected member of the Washington legal establishment. In the latter capacity, Olson in January signed a letter with former Clinton administration SG Walter Dellinger in support of Kagan’s nomination.

Dellinger and Olson wrote of Kagan:

“The well deserved stature that Kagan has achieved in the legal profession will enhance her tenure as Solicitor General …. Her brilliant intellect will be respected by the Justices, and her directness, candor and frank analysis will make her an especially effective advocate.”

In all, eight former SGs put their name to the letter in support of Kagan’s nomination for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among them: Ken Starr.

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Solicitor General Elena Kagan will make her debut before the Supreme Court on Sept. 9, reports The BLT. She plans to argue Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, known as the “Hillary: The Movie” case.

Elena Kagan (usdoj)

Elena Kagan (usdoj)

Kagan will argue opposite former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, now a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He is representing Citizens United, the sponsors of the movie, which is harshly critical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The BLT notes that, as SG under President George W. Bush, Olson once defended the law he now challenges: The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or “McCain-Feingold.”

The Supreme Court ordered oral arguments as it recessed for summer, sending shivers down the spines of supporters of campaign finance reform. They fear the Court has designs to overturn the ban on the use of corporate money for independent campaign expenditures.

While the movie was shown in theaters and on DVD, a mixed panel of federal district and appellate judges here in Washington dashed the group’s plans to advertise it on TV and release it via video-on-demand during Clinton’s presidential run. The judges ruled that the movie constituted an “electioneering communication” regulated under McCain-Feingold because it was funded by corporate money.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in March, betraying little until Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart acknowledged that the law could also be used to ban campaign-related books in some situations. Several justices appeared to disagree.

The briefs for the September arguments are due this week. This time around, the Court will consider whether to overturn Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and part of McConnell v. FEC.

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday unanimously opposed Mary L. Smith’s nomination to head the Tax Division at the Department of Justice. Smith’s nomination was reported out of committee along party lines, by a vote of 12 to 7. Republicans complained that she had virtually no tax experience. Read our previous coverage here and here.

It isn’t clear why Smith, a Chicago lawyer who served in the Clinton White House counsel’s office, was nominated for the job. She is a former in-house counsel at Tyco International but has no prosecuting experience.

“Tax law is very specialized,” said Ranking Member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) ” It is not an area where you learn on the job.”

But it’s evident she was slated for this job for a long time — Smith led the Obama DOJ transition team work on the Tax Division, which is a springboard into the job. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Smith was the “worst choice” that President Obama has made so far on nominations.

“She is inherently unqualified for this job,” Coburn said.

Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stood behind Smith at the meeting saying she is a “well qualified and distinguished woman.” She also received the support of former prosecutor Nathan Hochman, the Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division at the end of the Bush administration, and former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson did an about-face from his fellow conservatives yesterday, and has come out fighting California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage after it was upheld this week by the California Supreme Court, The Recorder reported today.

Although unexpected, what is even more surprising is that Olson — who represented President Bush in Bush v. Gore — is joining forces with liberal attorney David Boies, who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. The unlikely pair filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in a San Francisco federal court on behalf of a gay couple and a lesbian couple, according to The Recorder.

“We may vote differently from time to time,” Olson said at a press conference. “But we felt it was very important to present a united front and tell the courts this is not about right or left, conservative or liberal.”

Tags: , ,
Posted in News | Comments Off
Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Yesterday, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote a post on the paper’s PostPartisan blog about how “logic pointed to choosing [Solicitor General] Elena Kagan” for the Supreme Court and that Kagan was “the obvious choice.”  His argument starts off based on the premise that Obama’s next pick is likely to be a non-latina woman, meaning that Kagan is best-fit for the job because she has already been confirmed with 61 votes for the position of Solicitor General.  Dionne concluded his post:

E.J. Dionne

Courtesy: Washington Post

We will soon learn how good my logic is.

Well, why wait until the nomination?  While we don’t dispute the fact that Kagan would be a great nominee, she won’t help President Obama in “avoiding a major battle,” as Dionne claims.  Almost two weeks ago, we wrote about why she isn’t guaranteed a smooth confirmation:

The former Harvard Law School dean received only six Republican votes for her March 19 confirmation as Solicitor General, from Sens. Judd Gregg (NH), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine),Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). Thirty one Republicans voted against her – including Sen. Arlen Specter, who is now a Democrat. Conservative groups have alreadycirculated a memo against Kagan and other potential Obama nominees. If she goes before the Senate as a nominee for the Supreme Court, she could lose at least one GOP vote – Kyl’s.

The Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor he supported her nomination because of the written recommendations from promiment conservatives including former Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler, attorney Miguel Estrada and former Solicitors General Ted OlsonPaul Clement and Greg Garre. Kyl emphasized that his vote for Kagan as Solicitor General was for that position only, however, and that he wouldn’t automatically support her for the Supreme Court.

“My decision whether to support or oppose her would be strongly influenced by the decisions made by her as Solicitor General,” Kyl said on the floor. He added, “If she approaches her job as Solicitor General ideologically or argues inappropriate positions, I will not hesitate to oppose her nomination.”

Coburn, a staunch conservative, did not speak about Kagan’s nomination on the floor. He gave few hints behind his decision to support her nomination when he told the Ada Evening News: “I voted for her because she was qualified.”

Kagan could also have difficulty picking up now-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who opposed her nomination for Solicitor General. When he was a Republican, he said he was unable to learn enough about Kagan during the discussions he had with her.

“I’ve gone to some length to try to find out more about Dean Kagan,” Specter said on the floor. “But in the absence of being able to do so and really have a judgment on her qualifications, I’m constrained to vote no.”

Specter also complained that Kagan wasn’t familiar with a lawsuit by victims of the 9/11 attacks against Saudi Arabian officials and business people who were alleged to have helped finance terrorism. Said Specter on the Senate floor: “There has been a lot of information in the public domain that Saudi charities were involved. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. People were murdered. There are claims pending in court. The question is whether the Supreme Court is going to take the case. Well, I wish to know what the nominee for the position of Solicitor General thinks about it.”

Conservatives were upset by Kagan’s opposition to the Solomon Amendment, which required universities receiving federal funds to allow military recruiters on campus. Kagan opposed the amendment because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay service members. Kagan’s position on the amendment was the chief reason Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) voted against her. “I believe her record shows a lack of judgment and experience,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), said on the Senate floor during debate on her nomination to be Solicitor General.

Here’s the vote tally on Kagan’s March 19 confirmation:

YEAs —61
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —31
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 7
Boxer (D-CA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Ensign (R-NV)
Graham (R-SC)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Murray (D-WA)
Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s name is in the mix for the Supreme Court nomination to replace retiring Justice David Souter. She enjoys great respect from conservatives in the legal establishment. But politically, her nomination wouldn’t be without controversy.

The former Harvard Law School dean received only six Republican votes for her March 19 confirmation as Solicitor General, from Sens. Judd Gregg (NH), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). Thirty one Republicans voted against her – including Sen. Arlen Specter, who is now a Democrat. Conservative groups have already circulated a memo against Kagan and other potential Obama nominees. If she goes before the Senate as a nominee for the Supreme Court, she could lose at least one GOP vote – Kyl’s.

The Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor he supported her nomination because of the written recommendations from promiment conservatives including former Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler, attorney Miguel Estrada and former Solicitors General Ted Olson, Paul Clement and Greg Garre. Kyl emphasized that his vote for Kagan as Solicitor General was for that position only, however, and that he wouldn’t automatically support her for the Supreme Court.

“My decision whether to support or oppose her would be strongly influenced by the decisions made by her as Solicitor General,” Kyl said on the floor. He added, “If she approaches her job as Solicitor General ideologically or argues inappropriate positions, I will not hesitate to oppose her nomination.”

Coburn, a staunch conservative, did not speak about Kagan’s nomination on the floor. He gave few hints behind his decision to support her nomination when he told the Ada Evening News: “I voted for her because she was qualified.”

Kagan could also have difficulty picking up now-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who opposed her nomination for Solicitor General. When he was a Republican, he said he was unable to learn enough about Kagan during the discussions he had with her.

“I’ve gone to some length to try to find out more about Dean Kagan,” Specter said on the floor. “But in the absence of being able to do so and really have a judgment on her qualifications, I’m constrained to vote no.”

Specter also complained that Kagan wasn’t familiar with a lawsuit by victims of the 9/11 attacks against Saudi Arabian officials and business people who were alleged to have helped finance terrorism. Said Specter on the Senate floor: “There has been a lot of information in the public domain that Saudi charities were involved. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. People were murdered. There are claims pending in court. The question is whether the Supreme Court is going to take the case. Well, I wish to know what the nominee for the position of Solicitor General thinks about it.”

Conservatives were upset by Kagan’s opposition to the Solomon Amendment, which required universities receiving federal funds to allow military recruiters on campus. Kagan opposed the amendment because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay service members. Kagan’s position on the amendment was the chief reason Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) voted against her. “I believe her record shows a lack of judgment and experience,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), said on the Senate floor during debate on her nomination to be Solicitor General.

Here’s the vote tally on Kagan’s March 19 confirmation:

YEAs —61
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —31
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 7
Boxer (D-CA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Ensign (R-NV)
Graham (R-SC)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Murray (D-WA)