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William Consovoy, a lawyer who turned a go-to counsel for conservative causes, spearheading ongoing efforts to reshape voting legal guidelines and dismantle affirmative motion and in addition representing President Donald Trump in authorized wrangling over the discharge of his tax returns, died Jan. 9 at his dwelling in Falls Church, Va. He was 48.

He was identified in 2020 with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of mind most cancers, stated his mom, Linda Whalen. Mr. Consovoy was a key lawyer in lawsuits difficult race-conscious admissions insurance policies at Harvard College and the College of North Carolina which are presently awaiting resolution by the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. He was unable to take part within the oral arguments in these instances in October due to his failing well being.

Even amongst his authorized and philosophical adversaries, Mr. Consovoy was acknowledged as a formidable authorized mind, one whose affect was belied by his younger age.

“He was insightful, he was clever, he was educated, and, most significantly, he was brave,” Edward Blum, a conservative activist who labored with Mr. Consovoy to undo parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and on a collection of affirmative-action lawsuits, stated in an interview. “He took instances that the overwhelming majority of attorneys and regulation companies on this nation wouldn’t take.”

Mr. Consovoy stood out among the many many Ivy Leaguers who populate the federal judiciary on either side of the bench. He had aspired to work in sports activities administration earlier than enrolling at what’s now the Antonin Scalia Regulation Faculty at George Mason College, which he said he determined to attend primarily as a result of its location in Northern Virginia allowed him to save cash by residing with family.

“Many attorneys in D.C. have this sort of upper-class have an effect on, and Will isn’t a type of,” William Baude, a regulation professor on the College of Chicago and a buddy of Mr. Consovoy’s, told The Washington Post in 2019. “You possibly can inform he’s nonetheless form of the scrappy man from New Jersey who doesn’t care concerning the pomp and circumstance.”

In the midst of his authorized research, Mr. Consovoy discovered goal within the regulation and notably in conservative jurisprudence. Supreme Courtroom Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Consovoy described as his “hero,” later employed him as a clerk.

Mr. Consovoy spent the early years of his profession as a companion with the Washington regulation agency of Wiley Rein. He was “deeply concerned,” Blum stated, “within the planning and the execution” of Shelby County v. Holder. In that case, determined in 2013, the Supreme Courtroom voted 5-4 to invalidate a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, which subjected states and localities with a document of racial discrimination to hunt federal “preclearance” earlier than making adjustments to the methods residents vote.

To those that agreed with the court docket, the choice represented a vital replace to a federal regulation almost half a century after it was handed. Two those that disagreed, it was a calamitous blow to protections of civil rights after they remained imperiled. Mr. Consovoy, in remarks quoted by the New York Times, characterised the ruling as a “modest resolution by the court docket.”

In 2014, Mr. Consovoy helped kind the boutique agency that’s now Consovoy McCarthy. The next 12 months, he argued two instances earlier than the U.S. Supreme Courtroom — Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, a case that was “not well-known to the general public however of nice sensible significance to litigators on ‘standing,’” authorized commentator David Lat wrote in a tribute to Mr. Consovoy, and the opposite, Evenwel v. Abbott, on electoral reapportionment.

However he turned maybe greatest identified for his illustration of College students for Truthful Admissions, a gaggle organized by Blum to problem affirmative motion within the faculty software course of. (Mr. Consovoy was already at work with Blum on Fisher v. University of Texas, by which the Supreme Courtroom in 2016 in the end upheld race-conscious admissions.)

In 2014, Blum’s group filed federal lawsuits in opposition to Harvard and UNC, alleging that race-conscious admissions amounted to racial discrimination that harmed Asian American candidates specifically.

“If the court docket … asks itself, ‘Can we be assured that Harvard isn’t discriminating in opposition to Asian American candidates in the way in which the Supreme Courtroom asks us to be assured if we’re going to permit universities to make use of racial preferences,’ I consider the reply could be a powerful ‘no,’” Mr. Consovoy stated in arguments earlier than an appeals court docket in 2020, according to the National Law Journal.

The Supreme Courtroom is broadly anticipated to rule in opposition to Harvard and UNC. Such a call could be hailed by opponents of affirmative motion as a victory for what they regard as equity and decried by supporters of race-conscious admissions as a strike in opposition to range and entrenched institutional bias. A ruling in opposition to the schools, Lat wrote, “may find yourself being Consovoy’s most enduring authorized legacy.”

Mr. Consovoy additionally attracted consideration as a private lawyer to Trump throughout his long-running battle to forestall congressional Democrats and New York prosecutors from acquiring his tax and different monetary information amid investigations into potential conflicts of curiosity and international influence-peddling.

“We view your complete subpoena as an inappropriate fishing expedition not made in good religion,” Mr. Consovoy informed an appeals court docket panel in 2019, additionally arguing that Trump was protected by “non permanent presidential immunity.”

Referring to Trump’s campaign boast that he may “stand in the course of Fifth Avenue and shoot any individual” and never “lose any voters,” a decide requested if Mr. Consovoy was arguing that even underneath these circumstances the president couldn’t be investigated whereas in workplace.

“That’s right,” Mr. Consovoy responded, whereas noting that “in fact, Congress retains the impeachment energy.”

In an e mail after Mr. Consovoy’s loss of life, Douglas N. Letter, a lawyer who served as common counsel of the U.S. Home of Representatives throughout the chamber’s battles with Trump, recalled that he and Mr. Consovoy “squared off in opposition to one another in court docket on varied events.”

“Will was an especially expert litigator,” Letter wrote, “and I knew that I all the time needed to convey my ‘A recreation’ when he was on the opposite aspect.”

William Spencer Consovoy was born in Plainfield, N.J., on Aug. 31, 1974.

His father, Andrew, was chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board earlier than resigning amid allegations, which he denied, that he traded favors with members of the mob. He confronted no fees, and his son described the episode to the Occasions as “a painful expertise for me and for my household.”

Mr. Consovoy’s mom labored with the state violent crimes compensation board earlier than main a day-treatment program for adults with extreme psychological sickness.

In 1996, Mr. Consovoy acquired a bachelor’s diploma in political science from Monmouth College in West Lengthy Department, N.J. At Scalia Regulation Faculty, the place he graduated in 2001, he studied presidential energy underneath Kenneth Starr, the previous U.S. solicitor common and impartial counsel who investigated President Invoice Clinton within the matter of his affair with former White Home intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

In 2020 Mr. Consovoy married Masa Anisic. She died the next 12 months of colon most cancers.

Apart from his mom, of Scotch Plains, N.J., survivors together with his father, of Centreville, Va.; his stepfather, Bernie Whalen of Scotch Plains; and a sister.

Regardless of his stature within the conservative authorized phrase, Mr. Consovoy saved a strategically low profile. “I don’t discuss to the media,” he was said to have remarked. “I discuss to the court docket.”



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