Schroeder confirmed as head of Office of Legal Policy

April 21, 2010Duke Law News

Christopher Schroeder, Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy at Duke, has been confirmed by the United States Senate to the post of assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice. Schroeder was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama on June 4, 2009.

In his new post Schroeder serves as the primary policy adviser to the attorney general and deputy attorney general and develops and implements significant policy initiatives of the Department of Justice. His duties include assisting the president and attorney general in the selection and confirmation of federal judges.

The longtime director of Duke Law School’s Program in Public Law and co-director of the Duke in D.C. program, Schroeder served in the Clinton administration as acting assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, where he was responsible for legal advice to the attorney general, the executive office of the president, and other executive branch agencies on a broad range of issues, including separation of powers, other constitutional issues, and matters of statutory interpretation and administrative law. He also has served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I am pleased to welcome Chris back to the Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement following Schroeder’s confirmation. “The Office of Legal Policy serves a crucial role at the department in coordinating some of our most important projects and initiatives. Chris is an experienced and talented attorney, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of the American people.”

On the Senate floor this morning, Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., spoke in support of Schroeder’s nomination, noting their close friendship and working relationship; in addition to working together as Senate staffers, they have co-taught a course on Congress at Duke Law and on federal regulation in the Duke in D.C. program.

“… Chris Schroeder has the experience, the intellect, and the judgment necessary to be a superb leader of the Office of Legal Policy,” said Kaufman. “Just as important, he has the character and integrity to help the attorney general continue to restore the public faith in the Department of Justice.”

“Professor Schroeder is a remarkably thoughtful and wise scholar and lawyer,” said Duke Law School Dean David F. Levi. “He will be a wonderful director of the Office of Legal Policy. He is someone in whom the American people can be confident.”

In a letter endorsing Schroeder’s nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kenneth Starr ’73, dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law and a former U.S. solicitor general, praised him as a “thoughtful and measured person” with “sound judgment.” Schroeder’s broad government service, wrote Starr, gives him “a particularly keen and nuanced sense of what the Founding generation was seeking brilliantly to achieve: balanced government. From both practical experience and engaged scholarship, he understands, deeply, the appropriate role of the co-ordinate branches.”

A leading scholar of constitutional law and environmental law and policy, Schroeder is the author of one of the leading environmental law casebooks, Environmental Regulation: Law, Science and Policy (with Robert Percival, Alan Miller and James Leape, 6th edition, 2009).

“Chris Schroeder is an outstanding choice to head the Office of Legal Policy,” said Professor Neil Siegel, co-director of Duke’s Program in Public Law. “He brings a wealth of relevant experience in government service, legal academia, and private practice. Most importantly, he possesses formidable intelligence, shrewd judgment, and a critical capacity to reason nonideologically.

“The timing of Schroeder's confirmation by Congress is also noteworthy,” Siegel added. “He will now be available to help the president discharge his awesome responsibility to vet and nominate a successor to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.”