- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2001

The Senate should promptly confirm Ted Olson to be solicitor general, the governments lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court. No one doubts Mr. Olsons qualifications; and as I can testify from personal knowledge and experience, any concerns that Mr. Olson is somehow too "partisan" for this position are simply misplaced.
I am a proud Democrat, with a proud record of Democratic activism; I am also Mr. Olsons law partner. I first met Mr. Olson 20 years ago, when we worked together in the Justice Department during the first Reagan administration in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Mr. Olson was the head of OLC and I a holdover from the Carter administration was one of his deputies. We worked closely together on many matters that demanded precisely the kind of intellectual integrity that should be displayed by any solicitor general. In each instance, Mr. Olson displayed that integrity under what can only be characterized as battlefield conditions.
Let me provide two concrete examples. First, the courts had not at that time determined the constitutionality of the legislative veto device. The Republican plank endorsed by President Reagan openly supported legislative vetoes. When he became head of OLC, Mr. Olson studied the question of the constitutionality of legislative vetoes, discussed that question at great length with me and other OLC lawyers, and concluded that legislative vetoes were, root and branch, unconstitutional.
He so advised Mr. Reagan and members of the presidents staff many of whom were strongly supportive of legislative veto devices and convinced the administration that the issue involved was a legal issue, not a political issue, and that the law, not the plank of the Republican Party, had to be followed by everyone involved, including the president himself. Mr. Olsons view prevailed within the administration, and before the Supreme Court, in the landmark case of INS vs. Chadha.
Second, there was much discussion in the early years of the first Reagan administration about the enactment of legislation to curb the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. That discussion was being pressed by Republican senators. Once again, Mr. Olson was put under substantial pressure to "play ball" with the administration and endorse such legislation. Once again, he studied the issue, discussed it extensively with me and other OLC lawyers, and concluded that such legislation would probably be held unconstitutional. That opinion was reduced to writing and served as the administrations response. No such legislation, so far as I can recall, was ever seriously considered after the administrations position was communicated to Congress.
These examples paint the portrait of a lawyer scrupulously devoted to the law and having the personal and intellectual integrity to place the law above the politics of Washington, at considerable personal risk. Mr. Olsons career since then has been entirely consistent with his great integrity, his devotion to the rule of law and his extremely high personal standards for legal work and client representation. Mr. Olson is an effective advocate, and he and I often disagree on matters both legal and political; but he is an honest advocate and a person whose integrity and principled devotion to the rule of law have survived challenges to which very few public servants are ever subjected.
The solicitor general should be someone with great honesty and integrity. Mr. Olson has those qualities in abundance. Those who, through lack of knowledge or political hostility to the Bush administration, suggest otherwise are unfairly attacking one of the best possible nominees for the job.

Larry Simms, a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, served in the Justice Department under Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan.


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