News & Politics

Ted Olson: Making the Conservative Case

After heading President Reagan’s Office of Legal Counsel, Ted Olson continued as the right’s standard bearer in hard-fought political battles of the ’80s and ’90s, graduating to solicitor general under George W. Bush. Here, a selection of his cases.


Hopwood v. Texas
Olson led a team arguing in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that it was unconstitutional for the University of Texas law school to consider race in admissions. Judges ruled in favor of Cheryl Hopwood and fellow plaintiffs.

United States v. Virginia
Olson called it “a very sad day” when the Supreme Court overrode his arguments against allowing women to attend Virginia Military Institute, then a state-supported all-male school.


Bush v. Gore
Facing off against David Boies, his future Proposition 8 co-counsel, Olson represented George W. Bush before the Supreme Court, winning a stay on a recount of the Florida vote and sending his client to the White House.


Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger
As solicitor general, Olson argued against affirmative action in supporting white plaintiffs who sued the University of Michigan over their rejections.


Citizens United v. FEC
Defending the right of producers of the Clinton-bashing documentary Hillary: The Movie to accept funding from special interests during Hillary Clinton’s primary run, Olson helped overcome Federal Election Commission objections and unleash unlimited corporate and union cash on elections.

This article appears in the June 2014 issue of Washingtonian.