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. Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States from May 2010 until June 2011. Previously, Katyal served as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office, and as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Justice Department.
Katyal has argued more Supreme Court cases than any other minority group lawyer in American history. In 2017, American Lawyer Magazine named Katyal its coveted Grand Prize Litigator of the Year for both the 2016 and 2017 years.
Early life and education
Katyal was born in the United States on March 12, 1970, to Hindu immigrant parents originally from India. His mother is a pediatrician and his father, who died in 2005, was an engineer. Katyal's sister is also an attorney and currently teaches law at University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He studied at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Catholic school in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated in 1991 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, 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. In law school, Katyal was an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and studied under Akhil Amar and Bruce Ackerman, with whom he published articles in law review and political opinion journals in 1995 and 1996. After receiving his J.D. degree 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.
President Bill Clinton commissioned him to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. In 1999 he drafted special counsel regulations, which have guided the Mueller investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. 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. 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 in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd. Katyal is also the only head of the Solicitor General's office to argue in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
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, 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. Katyal also lectured at Fordham Law School concerning that decision.
Katyal was critical of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. While teaching at Georgetown University Law Center for two decades, Katyal was lead counsel for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), which held that Guantanamo military commissions set up by the George W. Bush administration to try detainees "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions."
Upon leaving the Obama Administration, Katyal returned to Georgetown University Law Center, but also became a partner at the global law firm Hogan Lovells. He specializes in constitutional law, national security, criminal defense and intellectual property, as well as running the appellate practice once run by John Roberts. During law school Katyal clerked one summer at Hogan Lovells, where he worked for Roberts before Roberts's nomination to the US Supreme Court.
Katyal appeared on The Colbert Report on July 26, 2006; June 17, 2008; and February 27, 2013. 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.
Katyal endorsed President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in an op-ed to The New York Times. When that newspaper's public editor criticized the op-ed for failing to disclose Katyal had active cases being considered by the Court, Katyal responded that it would have been obvious he always has cases being heard by the Supreme Court. Katyal formally introduced Judge Gorsuch at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.
In addition to Gorsuch, Katyal also spoke highly of President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In multiple tweets that were cited by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation, Katyal praised Kavanaugh's "credentials [and] hardworking nature," and described his "mentoring and guidance" of female law clerks as "a model for all of us in the legal profession." Katyal has also described Kavanaugh as "very gracious" and "incredibly likable." “It’s very hard for anyone who has worked with him, appeared before him, to frankly say a bad word about him,” Katyal observed during a July 2018 panel on Kavanaugh's nomination sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. Katyal's comments in support of Kavanaugh were made prior to Christine Blasey Ford's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.
Honors and awards
The US Justice Department awarded Katyal the Edmund Randolph Award, the highest honor the Department can bestow on a civilian. 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".
Katyal is married to Joanna Rosen, a doctor of Jewish American heritage. His brother-in-law is Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic. His sister Sonia Katyal is the Chancellor's Professor of Law and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley.
- Katyal, Neal (November 26, 2019). Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump. Mariner. ISBN 978-0358391173.