Seth Waxman: High Court Gunslinger

Seth Waxman: High Court Gunslinger


A feature article about the achievements of Seth Waxman

Seth’s 1992 argument didn’t seem destined to make a big splash. Bill Clinton was elected President on the day of the argument, so CNN had other things to do. And Seth’s case looked like a dog. Another guy in the SG’s office who’s been known to be right about a legal point or two—Miguel Estrada (see our recent profile)—said the “government couldn’t lose” the issue, which dealt with habeas review of Miranda claims.

Seth defied predictions and won the case. Clinton must have taken note: five years later, he made Seth his Solicitor General. (Estrada took note, too. Most recently, he helped conduct a moot court for Seth in Boumediene.)

After leaving the SG post, Seth spent nine months mulling his options. He flirted with Brookings, a few non-profits, and the corporate world, but landed back in private practice. Having plotted the legal strategy of the federal government for four years, Seth got lots of calls from big business wanting him to do similar, high-level strategizing for their broad litigation problems. Seth says he enjoys his current relationships with institutional clients like Hartford Financial Services, Monsanto, Harvard University, and the California Table Grape Commission (hmmm, maybe that’s his weight-loss secret).

Of course, the gunslinger in Seth also relishes one-off appellate cases, like his recent representation of TiVo in a Federal Circuit appeal of litigation with EchoStar. He’s even satisfied his academic leanings with an appointment at Georgetown Law. Most recently, he taught an undergraduate class on the Supreme Court, Foreign Affairs, and the Law of War. Even gunslingers know how to keep their powder dry.