Edwin S. Kneedler
North Penn High School 1963
Top 10 Percent of Graduating Class NPHS
Ed was on the Track and Field Team at North Penn, running sprint events. Ed is especially grateful to this day for the calm coaching and encouragement Coach Crawford gave him, even though Ed was not a star runner on the team, and for the discipline he learned as a result. Ed also was on the Cross-Country Team, played in the Band, and was literary editor of the Accolade. Ed’s experience at North Penn – in academics, athletics, other extra-curricular activities, school spirit, mentoring by teachers like Ken Weir, and lasting friendships – formed a strong foundation for his life. Ed had deeper roots at North Penn too: his father, Harry Kneedler, taught and coached in Lansdale in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and his mother, Isabella Jones, taught and was a guidance counselor in Lansdale and at North Penn for almost 30 years.After graduating from North Penn in 1963, Ed attended Lehigh University, where he received a B.S. in Economics in 1967. Ed served as a VISTA Volunteer from 1968 to 1971, first at a Job Corps Center for disadvantaged youth in Eastern Oregon, and then with a program for migrant farm workers in Western Oregon.
Impressed with the work lawyers had done on behalf of migrant farm workers, and encouraged by his brother Lane (NPHS ‘59), who is a lawyer, Ed decided to pursue a career in the law and attended the University of Virginia Law School from 1971 to 1974. After earning his J.D., he served for a year as a law clerk for Judge James Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 1975 to the present, Ed has worked in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. He first served in the Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which at that time was headed by now-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. OLC advises the President, the Attorney General, and federal agencies on various legal issues.
Since 1979, Ed has been in the Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the United States Government before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been a Deputy Solicitor General since 1993, and served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States in 2009, prior to the appointment of now-Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to be Solicitor General. Ed has argued 113 cases before the Supreme Court, more than any other lawyer in active practice. Ed’s responsibilities cover a range of issues in federal government cases before the Supreme Court, including the separation of powers under the Constitution, the First Amendment, international law, Indian law, public land and water law, ERISA, health care, and Medicare and other government benefit programs. Ed has argued a number of cases on behalf of the federal government in the lower federal courts as well, including most recently the suit brought by the United States to challenge the Arizona immigration statute as inconsistent with the federal government’s responsibilities. Ed is now also assisting in the Justice Department’s defense in court of the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
Ed regards it as a real privilege to have worked for the Department of Justice and to have represented the United States in court for his career. Ed’s wife Lynn has been a loving and supportive companion for 39 years. They met while Ed was serving as a VISTA Volunteer, and she now works for the Peace Corps. Lynn and Ed have two daughters, Jennie, who is a lawyer in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, and Anne, who with her husband Sam lives in Minneapolis and works for Cargill Corporation.