Kenneth Starr: Wikis


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Kenneth Starr

In office
May, 1989 – January, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Charles Fried
Succeeded by Drew S. Days, III

Born July 21, 1946 (1946-07-21) (age 63)
Lockett, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alice Mendell (1970- )[1]
Alma mater George Washington University
Brown University
Duke University School of Law

Kenneth Winston Starr (born July 21, 1946) is an American lawyer, a former federal Court of Appeals judge and Solicitor General who is most notable for his tenure as Independent Counsel while Bill Clinton was U. S. President. Starr was initially appointed to investigate the suicide death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater real estate investments of Bill Clinton. The three-judge panel charged with administering the Independent Counsel Act later expanded the inquiry into numerous areas including an extramarital affair that Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. After several years of investigation Starr filed the Starr Report which alleged that Bill Clinton had lied about existence of the affair during a sworn deposition. The allegation opened the door for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the five-year suspension of Clinton's law license.

In 2009, he served as lead counsel defending California's Proposition 8 which banned same sex marriages in California.

Starr currently serves as the dean of Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.

In February 2010, Starr was named 14th president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, to assume the role in June 2010. Starr, a member of the University Church of Christ in Malibu, California, announced that on his transition to Baylor he will affiliate with a Baptist congregation in Waco.[2]


Early life

Kenneth Starr was born near Vernon, Texas, in north central Texas and raised in Centerville in east central Texas. His father served as a minister in the Churches of Christ and also worked as a barber. Starr attended high school in San Antonio and was a popular, athletic, straight A student, voted most likely to succeed by his classmates.[3][4]

In 1970, Starr married Alice Mendell,[1] who had grown up Jewish.[2]


Starr first attended the Church of Christ-affiliated Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he was an honors students and a member of the Young Democrats club.[3] and wrote in support of Vietnam protesters,[5] but transferred to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1968. During his time at George Washington University, Starr was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon, a professional foreign service fraternity.[6] Starr worked for the Southwestern Company.[7] He later attended Brown University where he earned an M.A. in 1969 and then went to Duke University School of Law, earning his J.D. in 1973. Starr was not drafted for military service during the Vietnam War as he was classified 4-F, due to a case of psoriasis.[8]

Legal career

After his graduation from Duke, Starr became a law clerk for U.S. Circuit Judge David W. Dyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1973-1974), then for Chief Justice Warren Burger (1975-1977).

He joined the Washington D.C. office of the Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher in 1977 and was appointed counselor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in 1981.

Federal Judge and Solicitor General

Starr was nominated for a judgeship on United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan and served from 1983 to 1989. He was the United States Solicitor General from 1989 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush.

Early 1990s activities

When the Senate Ethics Committee needed someone to review Republican Senator Bob Packwood's diaries, the committee chose Starr. In 1990, Starr was the leading candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court nomination after William Brennan's retirement. He encountered a strong resistance from the Department of Justice leadership which feared that Starr might not be reliably conservative as a Supreme Court justice. President George H. W. Bush nominated David Souter instead of Starr.[9] Starr also considered running for the United States Senate from Virginia in 1994 against incumbent Chuck Robb, but opted against opposing Oliver North for the Republican nomination.

Time as Independent Counsel

Appointment and possible conflicts of interest

In August 1994 pursuant to the newly-reenacted independent counsel law, Starr was appointed by a three-judge panel to continue the Whitewater investigation. He replaced Robert B. Fiske, a moderate Republican who had been appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno.[10] Although Starr and other independent counsels were later criticized as unaccountable and unstoppable, the statute gave the Attorney General and the Special Division the authority to remove an independent counsel.

Starr took the job part-time and remained active with his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, as this was permitted by statute and was also the norm with previous independent counsel investigations .[11] As time went on, however, Starr was increasingly criticized for alleged conflicts of interest stemming from his continuing association with Kirkland & Ellis. Kirkland, like several other major law firms, was representing clients in litigation with the government, including tobacco companies and auto manufacturers. The firm itself was being sued by the Resolution Trust Company, a government agency involved in the Whitewater matter. Additionally, Starr's own actions were challenged because Starr had, on one occasion, talked with lawyers for Paula Jones, who was suing President Clinton over an alleged sexual assault. Starr had explained to them why he believed that sitting U. S. presidents are not immune to civil suit.[12]

Investigation of the death of Vince Foster

On October 10, 1997, Starr's Report on the death of deputy White House counsel, Vince Foster, drafted largely by Starr's deputy Brett Kavanaugh was released to the public by the Special Division. The report agrees with the findings of previous independent counsel Robert B. Fiske that Foster committed suicide at Fort Marcy Park, and that his suicide was caused primarily by undiagnosed and untreated depression. As CNN explained on February 28, 1997, "The [Starr] report refutes claims by conservative political organizations that Foster was the victim of a murder plot and coverup," but "despite those findings, right-wing political groups have continued to allege that there was more to the death and that the president and first lady tried to cover it up."[13] CNN also noted that organizations pushing the murder theory included the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, and Accuracy in Media, supported in part by Scaife's foundation.[14] Scaife's reporter on the Whitewater matter, Christopher Ruddy, was a frequent critic of Starr's handling of the case.[15]

Expansion of the investigation

The law conferred broad investigative powers on Starr and the other independent counsels named to investigate the administration, including the right to subpoena nearly anyone who might have information relevant to the particular investigation. Starr would later receive authority to conduct additional investigations, including the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, potential political abuse of confidential FBI files, Madison Guaranty, Rose Law Firm, Paula Jones law suit and, most notoriously, possible perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up President Clinton's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The Lewinsky portion of the investigation included the secret taping of conversations between Lewinsky and coworker Linda Tripp, requests by Starr to tape Lewinsky's conversations with Clinton, and requests by Starr to compel Secret Service agents to testify about what they might have seen while guarding Clinton. With the investigation of Clinton's possible adultery, critics of Starr believed that he had crossed a line and was acting more as a political hit man than as a prosecutor. [16][17]

Lewinsky scandal - Paula Jones lawsuit

In his deposition for the Paula Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky. Based on the evidence provided by Linda Tripp, a blue dress with Clinton's semen, Kenneth Starr concluded that this sworn testimony was false and perjurious.

During the deposition in the Jones case, Clinton was asked "Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court." The definition included contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of a person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of that person, any contact of the genitals or anus of another person, or contact of one's genitals or anus and any part of another person's body either directly or through clothing.[18][19][20] The judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the agreed definition. Clinton flatly denied having sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.[21] Later, at the Starr Grand Jury, Clinton stated that he believed the definition of sexual relations agreed upon for the Jones deposition excluded his receiving oral sex.

Starr's investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton, with whom Starr shared Time's Man of the Year designation for 1998. Despite his impeachment, the President was acquitted in the subsequent trial before the United States Senate as all 45 Democrats and a smattering of Republicans sided with him.[22]

Second thoughts on DOJ request

In 2004, Starr expressed regret for ever having asked the Department of Justice to assign him to personally oversee the Lewinsky investigation, saying "the most fundamental thing that could have been done differently" would have been for somebody else to have investigated the matter.[23]

Political satire

As with many controversial figures, Kenneth Starr has been the subject of political satire. Both the book, And the Horse He Rode in On, by James Carville, and the stage play, Starr’s on Broadway, by Eric Zaccar, attempt to add a comedic, arguably negative light to Starr’s time as special prosecutor.

Post-Independent Counsel activities

After five years as independent counsel, Starr resigned and returned to private practice as an appellate lawyer and a visiting professor at New York University and the George Mason University School of Law. Starr worked as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, specializing in litigation. He was one of the lead attorneys in a class-action lawsuit filed by a coalition of liberal and conservative groups (including the ACLU and the NRA) against the regulations created by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known informally as McCain-Feingold Act. In the case, Starr argued that the law is an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.

On April 6, 2004, he was appointed dean of Pepperdine University's School of Law. He originally accepted a position at Pepperdine as the first dean of the newly created School of Public Policy in 1996; however, he withdrew from the appointment in 1998, several months after the Lewinsky controversy erupted. Critics charged that there was a conflict of interest due to substantial donations to Pepperdine from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a Clinton critic who funded many media outlets attacking the president. (Scaife's money, however, supported the Foster-was-murdered theory, according to CNN, and Scaife defunded The American Spectator after it endorsed Starr's conclusion of suicide and mocked a Scaife-aided book.[14]) In 2004, some five years after President Clinton's impeachment, Starr was again offered a Pepperdine position at School of Law and this time accepted it.

Death Penalty Cases

In 2005, Starr worked to overturn the death sentence of Robin Lovitt, who was on Virginia's Death Row for murdering a man during a robbery in 1998. Starr provided his services to Lovitt pro bono. On October 3, 2005, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. (Lovitt was granted clemency and had his sentence commuted to life in prison without parole, on November 29, 2005, by Governor Mark Warner of Virginia.)

On January 26, 2006, the defense team of convicted murderer Michael Morales (which included Starr) sent letters to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger requesting clemency for Morales.[24] Letters purportedly from the jurors who determined Morales's death sentence were included in the package sent to Schwarzenegger.


Ken Starr announced that he will challenge the portion of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that gives authority to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).[25][26]

Morse v. Frederick

On May 4, 2006, Starr announced that he would represent the Juneau, Alaska school board in its appeal to the United States Supreme Court in a case brought by a former student, Joseph Frederick. The former student unfurled a banner at a school sponsored event saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the Olympic torch was passing through Juneau, prior to arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The board decided to suspend the student. The student then sued and won at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated that the board violated the student's first amendment right to free speech.[27] On August 28, 2006, Starr filed a writ of certiorari for a hearing with the Supreme Court.[28] On June 21, 2007, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court ruled in favor of Starr's client, finding that "a principal may restrict student speech at a school event, when that speech is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use."[29]

Blackwater Security Consulting v. Nordan (No. 06-857)

Starr continues to represent Blackwater in a case involving the deaths of four contractors killed in Fallujah, Iraq in March 2004.[30]

California Proposition 8 post-election lawsuits

On December 19, 2008, Proposition 8 supporters named Starr to represent them in post-election lawsuits to be heard by the Supreme Court of California. Opponents of the measure sought to overturn it as a violation of fundamental rights, while supporters sought to invalidate the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in the state before Proposition 8 passed.[31] Oral arguments took place on March 5, 2009, in San Francisco.

Starr argued that "Prop. 8 was a modest measure that left the rights of same-sex couples undisturbed under California's domestic-partner laws and other statutes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation," to the agreement of most of the judges.[32] The main issue which arose during the oral argument included the meaning of the word "inalienable", and to which extent this word goes when used in Article I of the Californian Constitution. Christopher Krueger of the Attorney General's office said that inalienable rights may not be stripped away by the initiative process. Starr countered that "rights are important, but they don't go to structure. ... rights are ultimately defined by the people."[33]

The Court ultimately held that the measure was valid and effective, but would not be applied retroactively to marriages performed prior to its enactment.

President of Baylor University

On February 15, 2010, Baylor University announced that it would introduce Starr as the University's newest President.[2] Starr will become Baylor's 14th President, replacing John Lilley who was ousted in mid-2008.[34] Starr plans to begin his tenure on June 1, 2010.[35]


  • First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life, Kenneth W. Starr, Grand Central Publishing, October 2003, ISBN 0446691305

See also


  1. ^ a b Woods, Tim (2010 February 16). "Ken Starr named president of Baylor University". Waco Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Ross Jr., Bobby (2010 February). "Pepperdine Law Dean Kenneth Starr named president of Baylor". Christian Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  3. ^ a b Pressley, Sue Anne (1998-02-03). "Special Report: The Roots of Ken Starr's Morality Plays". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  4. ^ Black, Jane Kenneth Starr: On the trail of the President, BBC, 1998-11-09, accessed 2009-06-25
  5. ^ Manes, David M (2008-09-09). "Kenneth Starr in The Bison at Harding College". The Political Cartel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  6. ^ "Eta Chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon". Delta Phi Epsilon. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  7. ^ Chu, Kathy (2006-07-21). "College students learn from job of hard knocks". Usa Today (Gannett Co. Inc.). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  8. ^ Winerip, Michael (1998-09-06). "Ken Starr Would Not Be Denied". The New York Times: pp. 36. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  9. ^ Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2008-01-29). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin. pp. 89–93. ISBN 978-0143113041. 
  10. ^ "Judicial Panel Names New Whitewater Independent Counsel (transcript)". ABC World News Tonight (American Broadcasting Company). 1994-05-08. 
  11. ^ Starr bio on Kirkland site. See also Kirkland & Ellis LLP, accessed 2009-06-25.
  12. ^ (When this constitutional issue ultimately reached the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously agreed.)
  13. ^ "Report: Starr Rules Out Foul Play In Foster Death". All Politics (CNN). 1997-23-02. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  14. ^ a b Jackson, Brookes (1998-27-04). "Who Is Richard Mellon Scaife?". CNN. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  15. ^ Jurkowitz, Mark (1998-26-02). "THE RIGHT'S DADDY MOREBUCKS; Billionaire's cash fuels conservative journalism' s fires". The Boston Globe (New York Times Co.). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  16. ^ Lacayo, Richard and Cohen, Adam Inside Starr and His Operation, Time, Feb 9, 1998
  17. ^ Froomkin, Dan Untangling Whitewater, Washington Post, accessed 2009-06-25
  18. ^ "President Clinton's Deposition in the Paula Jones Case". Washington Post. 1998-17-01. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  19. ^ King, John (1998-05-03). "New Details Of Clinton's Jones Deposition Leaked". CNN. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  20. ^ Hentoff, Nat (2001-01-29). "Above the law; Bill Clinton gets away with perjury (editorial)". The Washington Times (The Washington Times LLC). 
  21. ^ Office of the Independent Counsel (1998-08-09). "Nature of President Clinton's Relationship with Monica Lewinsky". The Starr Report (US Government Printing Office). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  22. ^ See Impeachment of Bill Clinton#Trial before U.S. Senate.
  23. ^ "AP allowed Starr to dodge blame for going after Clinton on Lewinsky". Media Matters America. 2004-04-12. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  24. ^ Elias, Paul (2006-01-27). "Ken Starr asks governor to spare condemned killer". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Communications Inc.). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  25. ^ Sampson, Greg (2006-04-29). "Starr leads conservative constitutional assault on Sarbanes-Oxley oversight board". JURIST (University of Pittsburgh School of Law). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  26. ^ "Ken Starr to Lead Legal Challenge to the PCAOB". Accounting Web. 2006-04-05.,%20%25Y. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  27. ^ Associated Press (2006-04-05). "Starr to take on appeal over "bong" banner". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  28. ^ Juneau School Board (2006-08-28). "PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI". On Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  29. ^ Supreme Court of the United States (2007-06-25). "MORSE ET AL. v. FREDERICK". CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  30. ^ "High Court Asked to Explore Contractor Liability for Deaths in Iraq". 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  31. ^ Egelko, Bob (2008-12-20). "Brown asks state high court to overturn Prop. 8". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  32. ^ "Justices seem to be leaning in favor of Prop. 8". San Francisco Chronicle. 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  33. ^ Richman, Josh (2009-03-05). "California Supreme Court hears Prop. 8 arguments". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  34. ^ Brown, Angela K. (2010 February 16). "Ex-Clinton prosecutor Starr named Baylor president". Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas). Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  35. ^ Eli Ross, Ex-Whitewater Prosecutor Ken Starr To Be Named BU President Tuesday, KWTX television report, 2010 February 15 (accessed 2010 February 16).


  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
  • Conason, Joe and Lyons, Gene (2000). The Hunting of the President. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-27319-3.
  • Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2006). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin Books, ISBN 978-1-59420-101-0.
  • Schmidt, Susan and Weisskopf, Michael (2000). Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-019485-5.

External links

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