News & Politics

Tom Brady Hires Ted Olson in Case “Deflategate” Goes to the Supreme Court

Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has added former US Solicitor General and superstar conservative lawyer Ted Olson to his team ahead of a possible Supreme Court fight over a four-game suspension Brady received from the NFL over allegations that he illicitly deflated footballs during the 2015 AFC Championship Game, according to court records.

Olson’s signature appears on a motion filed Friday in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, which on Monday issued a 2-1 opinion to enforce Brady’s suspension, which had been initially overturned by a lower court. Brady and the NFL Players’ Association are asking for an additional 14 days to file their motion for an en banc hearing before the entire Second Circuit bench. If the court turns down the request or issues the same decision, Brady and the NFLPA could petition the Supreme Court to take up the “Deflategate” case.

But the hiring of Olson hints that Brady’s side expects to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Olson is one of the most accomplished Supreme Court lawyers around, famous for stopping the recount in Florida that ended the 2000 presidential election and for defeating California’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2013. He also represented the victors in the Citizens United case that unwound federal campaign-finance laws. Recently, he represented Apple in its fight to stop the FBI from forcing it to decrypt an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators of last December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Olson’s biography from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where he is a partner, states that he’s argued before the Supreme Court in 62 times and won in 75 percent of those cases. But if Brady’s case gets all the way to the Supreme Court this year, it will likely face an eight-justice bench, and a 4-4 tie would default to the ruling of the lower court.

But Brady might have one other legal trick in his arsenal. If he can drag his appeal out to 2017, he might be able to count on his close, personal friend, Donald Trump, appointing a favorably disposed jurist to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Tom Brady Ted Olson by Benjamin Freed

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.