Neal Katyal

Neal Katyal
Solicitor General of the United States
In office
May 17, 2010  June 9, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Elena Kagan
Succeeded by Donald Verrilli
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
In office
June 9, 2011  August 26, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Leondra Kruger (Acting)
Succeeded by Sri Srinivasan
In office
February 3, 2009  May 17, 2010
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Daryl Joseffer
Succeeded by Leondra Kruger (Acting)
Personal details
Born Neal Kumar Katyal
(1970-03-12) March 12, 1970
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic[1]
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Yale University
Religion Hinduism

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] Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States from May 2010[4] until June 2011. Previously, Katyal served in as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office as Principal Deputy Solicitor General, as well as in the U.S. Justice Department. During the Clinton Administration, Katyal began his public service as National Security Adviser (1997-1999).

Katyal has argued more Supreme Court cases than any other minority group lawyer in American history, with the exception of Thurgood Marshall.[5]

Early life and education

Katyal was born in the United States on March 12, 1970, to Indian immigrant parents. His mother is a pediatrician and his father, who died in 2005, was an engineer. Katyal's sister, Sonia Katyal, is also an attorney; she teaches law at Berkeley School of Law. He was born in a Hindu household and studied at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Catholic school in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated in 1991 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity and the Dartmouth Forensic Union. 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.[6] At Yale, Katyal studied under Akhil Amar and Bruce Ackerman, with whom he published articles in law review and political opinion journals in 1995 and 1996. After graduating 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.


Katyal served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department in 1997-1999. President Bill Clinton commissioned him to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as Vice-President Al Gore's 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.[7] 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. Katyal is also the only head of the Solicitor General's office to argue in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.[8]

As Acting Solicitor General, Katyal succeeded Elena Kagan, who President Barack Obama chose to replace the retiring Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.[9]

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,[10] 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.[11] Katyal also lectured at Fordham Law School concerning that decision.[12]

While teaching at Georgetown University Law Center for two decades,[13] Katyal was lead counsel for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions."

Upon leaving the Obama Administration, Katyal returned to Georgetown Law School, but also became a partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells.[14] He specializes in constitutional law, national security, criminal defense and intellectual property, as well as runs the appellate practice once run by John Roberts. During law school Katyal clerked one summer at Hogen Lovells, where he worked for Roberts before his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.[15]


Katyal appeared on The Colbert Report on July 26, 2006;[16] June 17, 2008;[17] and February 27, 2013.[18] 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.[19]

Honors and awards

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. American Lawyer Magazine considered him one of the top 50 Litigators nationally. Washingtonian Magazine named him one of the 30 best living Supreme Court advocates; Legal Times (jointly owed by American Lawyer Media profiled him as one of the 90 Greatest Lawyers over the Last 30 Years.

Personal life

Katyal is married. His brother-in-law is Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic.[20]

See also


  3. 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.
  4. "Neal Katyal Passes a Milestone for Minority Supreme Court Advocates". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
  5. Katyal, Neal Kumar. "Curriculum vitae" (PDF). Georgetown University Law Center. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  6. Neal Katyal's Sentimental Send-Off, June 28, 2011
  7. Frankel, Alison (April 1, 2011). "Gene Case Brings Out a Big Gun". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  8. Law Prof Who Proposed US Court to Try Gitmo Detainees Gets DOJ Nod, ABA Journal, January 21, 2009.
  9. from "The Justice Blog" on the U.S. Department of Justice website (retrieved May 24, 2011) "Confession of Error: The Solicitor General’s Mistakes During the Japanese-American Internment Cases"
  10. Savage, David G. (May 24, 2011), "U.S. official cites misconduct in Japanese American internment cases", The Los Angeles Times.
  11. Fordham Law School announcement (retrieved February 3, 2012) "The Solicitor General and Confession of Error: The Hirabayashi Case" 3/08/2012
  15. Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (July 26, 2006). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  16. Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (June 17, 2008). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  17. Colbert, Stephen (presenter) (February 27, 2013). Neal Katyal (Television production). Comedy Central. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  18. "IMDB page". Internet Movie Database. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.

Further reading

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

Succeeded by
Donald Verrilli
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