Alumnus, professor testify at congressional hearing

  • Solemnly swearJames Comey '82 (l) and Lee Professor of Law William Van Alstyne (center) are sworn-in prior to their testimony June 8 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Solemnly swear

Two of three panelists testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee June 8 were members of the William & Mary community.  The committee was hearing testimony on President Obama’s request to extend the service of Director Robert Mueller of the FBI until 2013. Both Law Professor William Van Alstyne and alumnus James Comey ’82 spoke in favor of the extension.  Watch video.

Van Alstyne told the committee he had no doubts about the constitutionality of the proposed legislation, which would extend the current term of the director of the FBI for an additional two-year period. “[I]f you are individually satisfied with the current director’s discharge of his duties … enactment of the pending bill is desirable as well as wholly constitutional,” he testified. “The committee should have complete confidence in the pending measure as well within its constitutional discretion, and promptly report it for debate and vote in the full Senate.”

Van Alstyne is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most preeminent constitutional law scholars.  His writings have appeared in the principal law journals in the United States, with frequent republication in foreign journals.  His work has been cited by numerous courts, including the Supreme Court.  In January 2000, the Journal of Legal Studies named Van Alstyne in the top forty most frequently cited legal scholars in the U.S. Past national president of the American Association of University Professors, and former member of the National Board of Directors of the A.C.L.U., he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.

Comey addressed potential political concerns with the extension and provided a personal testimony to Mueller’s term as FBI director.

“I know Bob Mueller very well and believe he is one of the finest public servants this nation has ever seen,” he told the committee. “In his decade as director I think he has made huge strides in transforming the FBI and has contributed enormously to the safely of the American people.”

Comey served as deputy attorney general of the United States from 2003 – 2005. During that time he worked closely with Mueller.

“I know firsthand his commitment to the rule of law, and frankly I believe he is what we wish all public servants could be,” Comey said. “I think there are no politics in this decision, just as there are no politics in Bob Mueller. This is, as he is, only about doing what is in the best interest of this country.”

Prior to becoming deputy attorney general, Comey served in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the Richmond Division of the Eastern District of Virginia. Currently, he is a member of the management committee of Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm. Comey holds a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

Van Alstyne was appointed Lee Professor of Law at the Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William & Mary in 2004. He earned a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Southern California and a J.D. magna cum laude from Stanford Law School, where he was articles and book review editor of the Stanford Law Review.  He previously held appointments at Duke Law School and Ohio State University Law School.