Gregory Katsas, who spent the past eight years in high-level posts in the Justice Department's Civil Division, will rejoin Jones Day on Nov. 9. Katsas returns to Jones Day as a partner in the issues and appeals practice.
Katsas (Princeton and Harvard Law) served as assistant attorney general for the Civil Division from June 2008 to January 2009, rising to that position after stints as deputy assistant attorney general, principal deputy associate attorney general, and acting associate attorney general.
While at Justice, Katsas handled or supervised most of the leading civil appeals taken or defended by the federal government, allowing him the chance to argue in every federal appellate court, including the Supreme Court.
His cases have run the gamut of hot-button issues, including the detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, the use of national security letters in major counterterrorism investigations, the applicability of the state secrets privilege in litigation about covert CIA activities, the closure of immigration hearings for suspected terrorists, and the constitutionality of federal statutes on subjects ranging from the Pledge of Allegiance to partial-birth abortion.
As assistant attorney general, Katsas also oversaw all of the Civil Division's enforcement activities under statutes such as the False Claims Act and the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
“You name it. If it was controversial civil litigation, I argued it,” Katsas said in an interview today.
On Tuesday, Katsas was on the Hill representing the only witness opposing legislation that would overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which held that government officials could not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates and that a plaintiff must show that each government-official defendant’s individual actions violated the Constitution.
During his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Katsas, a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, said that Iqbal and the court’s prior ruling in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly were “consistent with the vast bulk of prior precedent, and strike an appropriate balance between the legitimate interests of plaintiffs and defendants.”
“Overruling these decisions would threaten to upset pleading rules that have been well-settled for decades, and thereby open the floodgates for what lawyers call ‘fishing expeditions’ – intrusive and expensive discovery into implausible and insubstantial claims,” Katsas testified.
In a statement, Mary Ellen Powers, managing partner of Jones Day’s Washington office said, "We are very pleased to have Greg back. He was already a great lawyer, but the experience of running DOJ's entire Civil Division obviously adds an extra dimension to his ability to help the firm's clients in a wide variety of matters."