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Historical Biography

Wallace H. Johnson

Wallace H. Johnson, AAG, Lands Division
Wallace H. Johnson
22nd Assistant Attorney General, Lands Division, -

Early History/Schooling:  Wallace Harold Johnson, Jr. was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 7, 1939, to Wallace and Esther Johnson.  He received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Ohio University in 1961.  He began his postgraduate studies at Rutgers University, then transferred to the University of Toledo where he received his law degree in 1965. 

Tenure as AAG:  On March 21, 1973, President Nixon appointed Johnson to be AAG of the Land and Natural Resources Division.  Johnson replaced Kent Frizzell, who had left to become Solicitor of the Interior Department.  During his tenure, the Division litigated some of the earliest cases under the Clean Air Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (the Clean Water Act), and the National Environmental Policy Act.  The Division was involved in a high profile case involving Reserve Mining located near Duluth, Minnesota.  The company was sued by EPA to enjoin the dumping of taconite mining tailings (which were contaminated with asbestos-like fibers) into Lake Superior.  The Division continued to be involved in cases involving Indian tribes, public lands, and land acquisition.  Shortly after Nixon’s departure from the White House in August 1975, Johnson resigned his position as AAG, to be replaced by Peter R. Taft.

Career:  In 1965, Johnson was hired as an honors graduate in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.  In 1969, he was appointed minority counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures.  He returned to the Justice Department as Associate Deputy Attorney General in 1970.  From 1972-1973, Johnson was a special assistant to the President for legislative affairs, and was involved in the confirmation process for Justice William Rehnquist.   

After leaving DOJ in 1975, Johnson became a partner at Kutak, Rock, & Campbell in Omaha, Nebraska, where he stayed until 1990.  In 1997, he was appointed General Counsel of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  He also taught law at the University of Toledo and contributed articles to legal journals.

Personal:  Johnson married Donna Simpson on June 9, 1962.  The couple has four children, Kimberly, W. Todd, Vicki, and Eric.  They reside in Wyoming.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023