Justice Tom C. Clark Award Conferred on Michael R. Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Office of the Solicitor General
By Patricia D. Ryan, Esq.
On May 12, 2011, in an award ceremony hosted by Associate Justice Elena Kagan of the United States Supreme Court, Michael R. Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Office of the Solicitor General, became the 50th recipient of the Justice Tom C. Clark Award for Outstanding Federal Government Lawyer awarded annually by the District of Colombia Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Mr. Dreeben had been nominated by Associate Justice Elena Kagan when she was serving as Solicitor General of the United States. Justice Kagan graciously offered to host the award ceremony and reception at the United States Supreme Court. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also attended the reception in honor of Mr. Dreeben.
Mr. Dreeben was the unanimous choice of the selection committee. The members of the selection committee consisted of two retired U.S. District Judges [D.D.C.], the Honorable Stanley Sporkin and the Honorable Eugene Sullivan, and three former presidents of the DC Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Mr. Dreeben has served in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States for nearly 23 years. For 15 years, he has held the position of Deputy Solicitor General for criminal matters, the longest anyone has held that position. Mr. Dreeben holds a B.A from the University of Wisconsin, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from Duke University. While at Duke he became Articles Editor of the Duke Law Journal, joined the National Moot Court team, and earned membership in the Order of the Coif. Following his graduation from law school, he clerked for Judge Jerre S. Williams on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In 1988, Mr. Dreeben joined the Department of Justice as an Assistant to the Solicitor General under Solicitor General Charles Fried. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Solicitor General by Solicitor General Drew S. Days III (filling the position vacated by Judge William C. Bryson). Mr. Dreeben has argued 79 cases in the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States and its agencies. He has also argued more than a dozen cases in the lower courts, including en banc arguments in nine federal circuits, as well as arguments in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Montana Supreme Court, and the Shakespeare Theater Company’s Mock Trial of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.
Mr. Dreeben has reviewed hundreds of government briefs filed in the Supreme Court and regularly works with the 93 United States Attorney’s Offices across the country. In 2006, he went on detail from the Solicitor General’s office to serve as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Maryland. There he won a guilty verdict in an identity theft jury trial (sitting second chair). In the fall of 2010, he again took a detail to teach Appellate Practice and a Constitutional Litigation Seminar at Duke Law School. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University School of Law and has guest-taught at Georgetown University School of Law and has guest-taught and participated in symposia at numerous law schools, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Texas.
Mr. Dreeben is a member of American Law Institute and the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court. He has received the Department of Justice’s Distinguished Service Award, the Rex Lee Advocacy Award, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. He frequently speaks and writes on constitutional criminal law; his most recent publication is entitled The Right to a Twinkie Defense.
In addition to remarks by Justice Kagan, three mentors of Mr. Dreeben spoke at the award ceremony: The Honorable William C. Bryson, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – a previous recipient of the Justice Tom C. Clark Award; Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General of the United States; and Leondra Reid Kruger, Acting Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Office of the Solicitor General.
In the audience of over 150 attendees were other previous recipients of the Justice Tom C. Clark Award: the Honorable Stanley Sporkin, the Honorable William Bryson, Paul Gonson, Lawrence Wallace, James A. Feldman, Edwin S. Kneedler, Douglas N. Letter, and Jacob Stillman.
After the remarks and presentation of the Justice Tom C. Clark Award by Justice Kagan to Mr. Dreeben, the honoree and his family, along with guests, were invited to a reception hosted by Justice Kagan.