Paul Taylor is the chief Republican counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Taylor questioned witnesses Jonathan Turley, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Noah Feldman at the December 4 impeachment hearings.
In opening remarks to the witnesses, Taylor said, “During the 2016 presidential election, lawyer campaign contributions tilted 97 percent for Clinton, 3 percent for Trump. The situation is essentially the same at law schools around the country, including schools represented on the panel here today.”
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Taylor, the minority counsel for the Judiciary Committee:
1. Taylor Has Worked for the Judiciary Committee Since 1999
Since 1999, Taylor has been a counsel with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Prior to working on the committee, Taylor was an associate at two law firms, Kirkland & Ellis and Covington & Burling.
According to a profile in The Almanac of the Unelected, 2013: Staff of the U.S. Congress, Taylor first worked with Rep. Trent Franks, the Republican congressman from Arizona, on the committee. That profile notes that in his “little free time,” Taylor is a cartoonist and was regularly featured in the Yale Daily News and Yale Herald during his time at the school.
2. Taylor, a Connecticut Native, Graduated From Yale University & Harvard Law School
According to his LinkedIn page, Taylor is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied political science, and later attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1994. Taylor is a native of New Britain, Connecticut.
Taylor said in a 2008 Harvard Law publication titled, “Conservative and Libertarian Public Interest Law: Exploring Opportunities With Nonprofits, Research Institutes and Government Agencies,” that, “I was always interested in public policy, starting in college where I majored in Political Science. During law school, I was an Executive Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which during my third year published an article of mine concerning the reform of the law of punitive damages. After graduating from law school, I became a Counsel for the House Subcommittee on the Constitution in 1999, and in 2003, I became Chief Counsel of the Constitution Subcommittee, where I have been the Chief Republican Counsel since January, 2007.”
3. In 2013, Taylor Was ‘Engrossed’ in the Legality of President Obama’s Drone Program
Taylor covers constitutional amendments, civil rights, government ethics, medical malpractice, product liability and general legal reform matters. In 2013, Taylor was “engrossed” in the investigation into the Obama administration’s drone program.
Among Taylor’s legal opinions is that the Speaker of the House does not need to be an elected member of congress. A 2009 profile on Taylor said that he has written more than a dozen legal opinion articles on subjects such as anti-terrorism politics, discrimination law, legal reform, judicial appointments, religious liberty and electronic surveillance.
4. Taylor Says the Best Part of His Job Is ‘Working for Principled Congressional Leaders’
Taylor wrote in a Harvard Law publication, “The best part of my job is working for principled Congressional leaders to achieve legislative reforms that improve the status quo by enhancing individual liberty. Working for a congressional committee also allows one to develop a more detailed understanding of specialized legal issues.”
He added, ““Compromise is inevitable in a democracy, of course, but in the end it’s not about
winning an argument; it’s about changing the law to achieve improvements in public policy that help individuals enjoy greater freedom.”
Taylor added, “Political experience is also important in obtaining a position with a Member or a committee on Capitol Hill. That’s because Members want to have people working for them who share their motivation to accomplish legislative reform in a political environment. Having particular beliefs that resonate with those of a political party or a Member is often necessary but not sufficient because only through demonstrated work with political organizations, political campaigns, and advocacy groups does one show the requisite commitment to turning ideas into results in the political process.”
He said, “I would recommend working for several years as a private lawyer before working for a public sector or public policy organization or institution. That’s because one can most effectively advocate reforms to the legal system if one has actually worked under the rules that currently govern that legal system and obtained a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in the current system, and why. Also, saving some money, and becoming financially secure and debt-free, goes a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition from the private sector to the public sector.”
5. Taylor Said He Helped Shepherd Through the SAFETY Act & the Unborn Victims of Violence Act
Taylor said in a Harvard publication, “I have helped shepherd the following pieces of legislation through Congress, all of which were enacted into law: the SAFETY Act (part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which provides legal protection for manufacturers of antiterrorism technologies to encourage their more widespread deployment); the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (which prevents discrimination in voting); the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (which makes murdering an unborn child during the commission of a federal violent crime subject to a separate chargeable offence); the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (which protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits in which the alleged harm was caused not by the gun manufacturers, but by those who criminally or unlawfully misused guns); and the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act (which prohibits demonstrations near military funerals on federal property).”
According to Taylor, “As Chief Republican Counsel for the Constitution Subcommittee, I draft legislative text, amendments, committee reports, and other informational materials for Republicans and their staffs. The issues within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee include ethics reform, voting and civil rights, religious liberty, free speech, property rights, and other issues with constitutional law components. I also handle legal reform issues for the Republicans on the full House Judiciary Committee. At the subcommittee, I work on issues related to the protection of property rights, initiatives to ensure that religious organizations are allowed to compete for federal social service funds on an equal basis with nonreligious organizations, among other things. I also work on issues related to legal reform and litigation management.”
Taylor added, “Generally, legislation receives a hearing and a markup at a subcommittee before legislation is marked up at the full committee. Counsels help draft legislation, or amendments to legislation, write and research legislative Committee Reports (the documents that embody the Committee’s official view on legislation), and generally educate Members and their staffs regarding the need for and significance of various pieces of legislation. If legislation is favorably reported out by the full committee, subcommittee counsels who have worked on the legislation generally facilitate its progress through the House of Representatives, often culminating in a vote on the legislation by the full House and a potential subsequent conference with the Senate. Subcommittees also conduct oversight, which may involve sending information requests to various federal agencies, and the holding of hearings to gather information.”