Theodore Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher can now count himself in the company of President Barack Obama, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Conan O'Brien, Jet Li and Lady Gaga. All of those people, including Olson, have been named to Time magazine's annual list of 100 people who "most affect our world."
The list recognizes game changers in four categories: leaders, heroes, artists, and thinkers. Olson was named to the latter category along with David Boies, who is working with Olson on the constitutional challenge to a California law that bans marriage between same-sex couples.
The write-up, which was penned by Joel Klein, the chancellor of the New York City public-school system, begins, “David Boies and Ted Olson, both 69, are lions of America's legal establishment — Boies, a darling of the left; Olson, the right. Time and again they've clashed, most famously in Bush v. Gore, in 2000. Olson won that battle, and given how high the stakes were, the two lawyers might be forgiven any lasting bitterness. Instead, they've become great friends.”
Klein’s article, available here, goes on to note Olson and Boies’ work on the Prop 8 case, which the article calls an “extraordinary case” that could further their “long-shot mission” to secure the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples across the country.
Olson said in an interview this morning that he first heard he was to be honored by Time in February. “I have no idea how this came together. . . . I’m doubtful that I deserve to be on the list, but I am happy that I am.”
He said he did not speak with Klein for the article, but that he has known him for years and has “a great respect for the man.” While serving as the Justice Department’s antitrust chief in 1999, Klein hired Boies to handle the trial of landmark antitrust charges against Microsoft Corp.
The list includes some people who Olson said he hasn’t heard of, particularly in the artistic world. But he said he is looking forward to reading about them in the issue. (He hasn’t read all of it yet.) Of those he has heard of, Olson said he was particularly pleased to join a list that included Obama, Sotomayor, and Prince. “It’s pretty cool,” Olson said.
On Tuesday, Time will host a celebratory gala at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan, which Olson said should be interesting. “There is one artist on the list, Banksy, who hasn’t revealed his identity. He wears a paper bag on his head in the magazine. I’ll be interested to see if he does the same thing at the gala.”
The Prop 8 case, Olson said, has been set for closing arguments on June 16. Olson said much of his and Boies’ time has been spent preparing for that. Olson was also recently hired to lead the Republican National Committee’s challenge to bans on "soft money" donations to political parties. That case is a follow up to Olson’s Supreme Court win in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Olson said the Prop 8 case and the soft-money challenge have kept him busy enough that he hasn’t had a chance to talk to Boies about the Time honor. “But I guess I’ll be seeing him on Tuesday,” Olson said.