Peter Taft (1975-1977)
Early History/Schooling: Peter Rawson Taft II, a Cincinnati native, attended Yale University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1958 and a law degree in 1961. Taft was Managing Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After completing law school, Taft served as a law clerk to Judge Richard T. Rives of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1962, he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court.
Tenure as AAG: Taft was appointed AAG of the Land and Natural Resources Division in 1975 by President Ford. Taft gained fame for his leadership in a dispute between the State of Maine and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The congressional settlement, which set the table for several ensuing Indian land rights cases, included $54 million for land acquisition on behalf of the Passamaquoddy and two other tribes. The Division also continued to litigate groundbreaking cases involving the relatively new environmental laws and EPA regulations. Taft argued the Clean Air Act case of Union Elec. Co. v. EPA before the Supreme Court in 1976.
Career: After his clerkships, Taft worked at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., where he practiced criminal law and eventually became a partner. He joined the firm of what is now known as Munger, Tolles & Olsen in 1969 and shifted his practice toward general civil litigation. He remained at the firm until joining the Department of Justice in 1975. When he left the federal government in 1977, he returned to Munger, Tolles & Olsen, where his practice included environmental law, including Superfund cases and toxic torts.
Personal: Taft is married to Diana Todd. Taft’s grandfather was former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft. Other members of his immediate family were also politically inclined: both his father and brother ran unsuccessful campaigns to secure the Republican nomination for governor of Ohio. His father also was mayor of Cincinnati from 1955-1957. Two of Taft’s uncles, Robert Alphonso Taft and Robert Taft, Jr., served as Senators from Ohio. His cousin, Bob Taft, was governor of Ohio from 1999 until 2007.
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.