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Intellect

BYU law school professor appointed to U.S. Department of Justice

Thomas Lee to lead a team representing the executive branch

A professor at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School has been appointed as a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Thomas R. Lee will lead the more than 100 attorneys of the Federal Programs Branch in the department's Civil Division, representing the president, cabinet officers and federal agencies. The branch is responsible for defending the constitutionality of federal statutes, for opposing suits to overturn government policies and programs, and for defending against attacks on the legality of government decisions. The branch also initiates litigation on behalf of the federal government.

Among many other activities, the Federal Programs Branch has been defending government actions related to counterterrorism and recent laws restricting children's access to pornography.

"I'm excited to be in Washington at a time when so many important things are happening," said Lee, who will begin his new job in late May. "I've had a desire for a number of years to become involved in some sort of public service. I was thrilled at the possibility of being considered for this position, not only because of the opportunity to serve the country and the president, but also because it's in a fascinating area that will have a significant impact on such a broad range of cutting-edge questions of constitutional law."

Lee's father, the late Rex E. Lee, served as the assistant attorney general for the civil division in the late 1970s, when Thomas Lee was in elementary school. Rex Lee also left the J. Reuben Clark Law School for government service, having served as its founding dean. He later served as the U.S. solicitor general.

Thomas Lee has been on the law school faculty since 1997, teaching classes on constitutional, procedural and public law. He has published more than a dozen articles on those topics in law journals across the country, and his law students have chosen him as "Professor of the Year" twice.

In March 2002, Lee represented the State of Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that unlawful census methods had deprived Utah of an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also argued several appeals court cases while on the BYU faculty.

Prior to joining the law school, Lee practiced with Parr, Waddoups, Brown, Gee & Loveless in Salt Lake City. He had previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after graduating with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School and BYU.

"This is a wonderful recognition of Tom's professional stature and ability," said H. Reese Hansen, outgoing dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. "It's a credit to the university and the law school. This opportunity will be a strength in Tom's career and for his future students."

Lee will return to the law school after his government service is complete.

Writer: Michael Smart

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Photo by Jaren S. Wilkey/BYU Photo

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