Theodore Olson: Wikis


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Theodore Bevry Olson

In office
June 11, 2001 – July 10, 2004
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Seth P. Waxman
Succeeded by Paul D. Clement

Born September 11, 1940 (1940-09-11) (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of the Pacific
UC Berkeley School of Law

Theodore Bevry Olson (born September 11, 1940) was the 42nd United States Solicitor General, serving from June 2001 to July 2004. He is a major figure in the conservative legal movement.


Early life

Although he was born in Chicago, Theodore Olson grew up in Mountain View, California. He graduated from Los Altos High in 1958, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of the Pacific, and a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley.[1]

Legal career

After earning his law degree from Berkeley Law at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked as an associate and a partner in the Los Angeles, California office of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He then served as an Assistant Attorney General (Office of Legal Counsel) in the Reagan administration[2] before returning to private practice as a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of his former law firm. While serving in the Reagan administration, Olson defended President Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair.[2]

Olson gained notability by acting as attorney for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard while he was in private practice. Olson had appealed to United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit claiming that during Pollard's trial, the life sentence he received was in violation of the plea bargain agreement, which had specifically taken life off the table. Olson also argued that the violation of said plea bargain was grounds for a mistrial. The Court of Appeals, in a panel of three judges, voted 2-1 that no grounds existed for a mistrial. Future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cast one of the two votes against Pollard's motion.

Olson argued a dozen cases before the Supreme Court prior to becoming Solicitor General;[3] in one case, he argued against federal sentencing guidelines, and in a case in New York state, he defended a member of the press who had first leaked the Anita Hill story.[2] Olson successfully represented presidential candidate George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore, which effectively determined the final result of the contested 2000 Presidential election.

He was nominated to the Office of Solicitor General by President Bush on February 14, 2001, was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 24, 2001, and took office on June 11, 2001. In July 2004, Olson retired as Solicitor General and returned to private practice at the Washington office of Gibson Dunn. Bush nominated Paul Clement to be Olson's successor, and he was confirmed to the position by the United States Senate.

In 2006, Olson participated in the civil case filed by falsely accused spy Wen Ho Lee and appealed to the Supreme Court.[4] Lee sued the federal government to discover which public officials had named him as a suspect to journalists before he had been charged.[4] Olson wrote a brief on behalf of one of the journalists involved in the case, saying that journalists should not have to give their confidential sources over to the court, even if subpoenaed.[4]

In 2009, Olson joined with David Boies, his previous adversary in Bush v. Gore, bringing a federal lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger in an attempt to overturn Proposition 8, a California state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.[5]

Personal life

Olson's third wife[6], Barbara K. Olson, was a passenger on the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the E Ring of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 (his 61st birthday). The following year Olson met Lady Booth, a tax attorney and native of Kentucky, and the two were married on October 21, 2006 in Napa County, California.[6]


Olson was present at the first meeting of the Federalist Society.[7] He has served on the board of directors of American Spectator magazine.[8]

Olson was a prominent critic of Bill Clinton's presidency, and he helped prepare the attorneys of Paula Jones prior to their Supreme Court appearance.[2] Olson's wife Booth has described herself as a registered Democrat. She has contributed to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani. Olson served Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign as judicial committee chairman.[7]

Executive appointment speculation

Prior to President Bush's nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts, Olson was considered a potential nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's post. Following the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination for that post, and prior to the nomination of Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito, Olson's name was again mentioned as a possible nominee.

In September 2007, Olson was considered by the Bush administration for the post of Attorney General to succeed Alberto Gonzales. However, the Democratic response was so strongly negative that Bush chose to nominate Michael Mukasey instead.[9]

See also


Further source

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seth P. Waxman
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Paul Clement


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