American Courage: Neal K. Katyal
Presenting the 2017 recipient of our annual American Courage Award
On October 5, 2017, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC will be celebrating our annual American Courage Awards, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate individuals, groups, and corporations for their commitment and contributions to civil rights.
Neal K. Katyal, American lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, argued nearly 10 percent of all the cases before the Supreme Court this past term. His commitment to U.S. constitutional law is truly inspiring. This year, we will honor him with the American Courage Award.
The American Courage Award recognizes an individual, company, or organization that has shown extraordinary courage or commitment to cause of civil rights. At the age of 47, Katyal has already argued more Supreme Court cases than any other minority attorney in U.S. history, except for Thurgood Marshall, with whom he is currently tied. Neal is best known for his work as lead counsel for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the landmark decision Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and for successfully defending the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2011, Katyal led efforts to issue a confession of error by the Solicitor General’s office, formally acknowledging and apologizing for its role in Korematsu v. United States. Recently, Katyal served as the lead attorney for the state of Hawaii’s challenge to the President’s travel ban. It is clear from his work that he has a personal as well as professional commitment to the advancement of civil rights.
Katyal was deemed “one of the finest lawyers who has argued before a court,” by Chief Justice John Roberts. In 2011, Neal received the highest award given to a civilian by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Edmund Randolph Award. Neal has also served as a law professor for nearly two decades at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was one of the youngest professors to have received tenure and a chaired professorship in the university’s history. He also fought to overturn the patents held by Myriad Genetics that could help diagnose breast cancer winning a unanimous Supreme Court decision,
Neal’s dedication and work have inspired our community.