Charles Rothfeld, recognized by the National Law Journal in 2012 as "one of the leading members of the Supreme Court bar" and by USA Today as "part of an emerging elite private-sector group of lawyers who dominate advocacy at the Supreme Court," focuses his practice on Supreme Court and appellate litigation. His appellate experience has earned him listings in Chambers USA and Best Lawyers in America, and repeated recognition as one of "Washington’s top lawyers" by Washingtonian Magazine. He has worked on more than 200 cases before the United States Supreme Court and on hundreds of other cases before federal and state appellate courts. Charles has argued 30 cases before the US Supreme Court, most recently in April 2013.
Since joining Mayer Brown in 1991, Charles has represented foreign governments, states, municipalities, members of Congress, Indian tribes, and groups of state and local officials before the Supreme Court. His representations also have included Fortune 500 companies and other businesses in a range of industries, for which he has worked in cases involving various aspects of constitutional law — including the Commerce and Due Process clauses, the First Amendment, and the Twenty-first Amendment — as well as antitrust, securities regulation, federal preemption, taxation, ERISA, banking, criminal law, and the Alien Tort Statute. Among his recent Supreme Court cases, Charles successfully argued before the Court on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines and the Philippine National Bank in an effort to reclaim assets stolen by former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. He also prevailed in Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez, the first case since the nineteenth century in which the Court invalidated a state tax under the Constitution’s Tonnage Clause.
Charles is a founder and co-director of the Yale Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic, which is among the largest and most successful appellate advocacy programs in the nation. Over the past six years, students in the Yale Clinic have worked on almost 50 cases in the Supreme Court at the merits and certiorari petition stages.
In addition, Charles is a member of the Board of Advisors of Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute. He also has served as a faculty member in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Supreme Court advocacy program and is a judge in NAAG’s annual “Best Supreme Court Brief” competition. He is a regular participant in moot courts for NAAG, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute. He has published widely on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and appellate advocacy, and he is one of the co-authors of Mayer Brown’s treatise on practice in the federal courts of appeals.
Prior to joining Mayer Brown, Charles served as Special Counsel for the State and Local Legal Center (1988–1990) and as Assistant to the Solicitor General, US Department of Justice (1984–1988), where he had primary responsibility for handling the government’s Supreme Court litigation in the areas of banking and securities regulation. From 1982 to 1984, he worked with another law firm in Washington, DC. Earlier, Charles served as Law Clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, US Supreme Court (1981–1982) and to Chief Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1980–1981).