Neal Katyal, the Paul Saunders Professor at Georgetown University and the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, focuses on Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Intellectual Property. In December 2017, American Lawyer magazine named him The Litigator of the Year; he was chosen from all the lawyers in the United States. At the age of 49, he has also already argued more Supreme Court cases in U.S. history than has any minority attorney, recently breaking the record held by Thurgood Marshall.
Neal has argued major Supreme Court cases involving a variety of issues, such as his successful defense of the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, his victorious defense of former Attorney General John Ashcroft for alleged abuses in the war on terror, his unanimous victory against 8 states who sued the nation’s leading power plants for contributing to global warming, his attack on Donald Trump’s “travel ban,” and a variety of other matters. As Acting Solicitor General, Katyal was responsible for representing the federal government of the United States in all appellate matters before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals throughout the nation.
Neal has orally argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, with 37 of them in the last decade, and more arguments upcoming this Term. In the 2016-17 Term alone, Neal argued 7 cases in 6 separate arguments at the Supreme Court, far more than any other advocate in the nation. Neal was also the only head of the Solicitor General’s office to argue a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on the important question of whether certain aspects of the human genome were patentable. Neal’s interest in technology has led him to serve as a Board Partner at Social Capital, a Silicon Valley firm that focuses on technology and philanthropy.
While teaching at Georgetown, Katyal won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the United States Supreme Court, a case that challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. The Supreme Court sided with him by a 5-3 vote, finding that President Bush’s tribunals violated the constitutional separation of powers, domestic military law, and international law. As former Solicitor General and Duke law professor Walter Dellinger put it “Hamdan is simply the most important decision on presidential power and the rule of law ever. Ever.” An expert in matters of constitutional law, Katyal has embraced his theoretical work as the platform for practical consequences in the federal courts.
Katyal previously served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department and was commissioned by President Clinton 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 the Supreme Court election dispute of 2000, and represented the Deans of most major private law schools in the landmark University of Michigan affirmative-action case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Katyal clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer as well as Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He attended Dartmouth College and Yale Law School. His Articles have appeared in virtually every major law review and newspaper in America.
Katyal is the recipient of the very highest award given to a civilian by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Edmund Randolph Award, which the Attorney General presented to him in 2011. The Chief Justice of the United States appointed him in 2011 to the Advisory Committee on Federal Appellate Rules, and again in 2014. Among other honors, he was named as One of the 40 Most Influential Lawyers of the Last Decade Nationwide by National Law Journal (2010); Appellate MVP by Law360 numerous times (most recently in 2017); winner of the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Award for 2017 in two different categories (both private and public law); One of the 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers Over the Last 30 Years by Legal Times (2008); one of GQ‘s Men of the Year (2017); Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers USA (2006); Runner-Up for Lawyer of the Year by National Law Journal (2006); and one of the top 500 lawyers in the country by LawDragon magazine for each of the last 12 years. He also won the National Law Journal’s pro bono award.
Katyal has appeared on every major American nightly news program, as well as in other venues, such as the Colbert Report. He played himself, arguing a Supreme Court case against the Solicitor General, in an episode of House of Cards on Netflix.
U.S. Supreme Court Briefs
Book Chapters & Collected Works
"Looking back at a year of Supreme Court cases tried over the phone," coverage by PBS News Hour, May 4, 2021, featuring Professor Neal K. Katyal.
"School of Social Transformation event to discuss justice and 21st-century Supreme Court," coverage in ASU News, April 6, 2021, featuring Professor Neal Katyal.
"Derek Chauvin’s lawyer appears outnumbered at trial. But colleagues say Eric Nelson’s low-key style is easy to underestimate," coverage in The Washington Post, March 27, 2021, featuring Professor Neal Katyal.
"Lawyers discuss structural Supreme Court reforms," coverage in NJ Today, March 5, 2021, featuring Professor Neal Katyal.