Community, Politics

Indian American lawyer Preeta Bansal on shortlist for judgeship in New York

Bansal is among 7 candidates vying for a position on the Court of Appeals.

By The American Bazaar Staff

NEW YORK: Preeta Bansal, the former Solicitor General of New York, and who has worked in the Justice Department in the past, is amongst seven candidates who have been short-listed by the New York state Commission on Judicial Nomination for the Court of Appeals position that becomes vacant when Senior Associate Judge Victoria Graffeo’s term expires at the end of November.

Preeta Bansal (Courtesy of LinkedIn)
Preeta Bansal (Courtesy of LinkedIn)

The list of seven candidates has been presented to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reported the New York Law Journal.

At present, Bansal, 48, is a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School and senior legal and policy adviser at the MIT Media Lab.

In her illustrious and varied career, Bansal served as the General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to the federal Office of Management and Budget from 2009 until 2011. Prior to her work in the Obama administration, she served as a law partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and as the Solicitor General of the State of New York during Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s first term. She also has been a member and past chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), according to Wikipedia.

Bansal, who was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1986 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1989. She served as Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she clerked for Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1989 to 1990 and for United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens from 1990 to 1991.

Following private practice in Washington, D.C., Bansal worked in the Clinton Administration from 1993 to 1996 as a Counselor in the U.S. Department of Justice and as a White House Special Counsel. At the Justice Department, she assisted Joel Klein, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, on United States v. Microsoft and other matters.

In 1999, newly elected New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer recruited her to serve in his office as Solicitor General of the State of New York, the statutory ranking officer after the Attorney General. In that capacity, she was in charge of the office’s appellate activities, supervising 45 lawyers in the Solicitor General’s Office who filed 40 to 50 appellate briefs each week, and she also helped manage the significant legal positions and amicus strategy of the 600 lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office. Bansal won the “Best United States Supreme Court Brief” award from the National Association of Attorneys General during every year that she served as New York Solicitor General, and is widely credited with initiating significant managerial reforms to enhance the legal excellence, efficiency and transparency of the Solicitor General’s Office and with providing the intellectual underpinning of “federalism” that later animated Attorney General Spitzer’s active state enforcement agenda.

Bansal returned to Nebraska and taught Constitutional Law, Federalism, and a seminar on “Courts, Politics and Legal/Social Change: Evaluating the Limits and Successes of Rights-Based Approaches” as a Visiting Professor at the University of Nebraska Law School from 2002-2003. She was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2003.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle chose Bansal for the bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in 2003, at which time she also rejoined private law practice in New York at Skadden, Arps. As a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Bansal led the firm’s appellate litigation and complex legal issues practice. In a “Public Lives” profile of her in 1999, the New York Times referred to her as a “legal superstar.” She has appeared as a commentator on legal issues and U.S. Supreme Court matters on CNN, C-SPAN and PBS news programs. She was mentioned as a possible Solicitor General in the Barack Obama administration before Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan was announced as Obama’s selection for the post.

Bansal is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received the National Organization of Women’s “Woman of Power and Influence Award” in 2006 and was named one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal in its inaugural list in 2008. In 2006, she was a co-chair for then-Attorney General-Elect Andrew Cuomo’s transition team, and previously served as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the National Women’s Law Center and the New York City Bar Justice Center, and as a Commissioner on Mayor Bloomberg’s Election Modernization Task Force.

The other candidates are:

Daniel Alter, 49, of Mount Vernon. He is general counsel with the state Department of Financial Services.

Eugene Fahey, 63, of Buffalo, appears on the list of candidates for the third time. He was previously nominated in 2012 and 2013. Fahey has been an associate justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, since 2006.

Victoria Graffeo, the only Republican on the list, has worked in the public sector except for four years after law school when she was in private practice. A graduate of the State University at Oneonta, Graffeo earned her law degree from Albany Law School in 1977.

Leslie Stein, 57, an Albany Democrat, has served on the Appellate Division, Third Department, since 2008.

Maria Vullo, 50, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, makes her second appearance on a Court of Appeals list. She was nominated last year for another opening.

Vullo received her undergraduate degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and then attended New York University School of Law, from which she graduated in 1987. In law school, she was senior editor of the moot court board.

Rowan Wilson, a 54-year-old partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, was nominated for a prior Court of Appeals vacancy in 2013.


  1. remember this whackjob was among the people who opposed Modi’s visit to the US. She is an unrelaible and rather idiotic person.

    • allaisaxuver

      Not among. She was the Chairman of that Agency that recommended he be denied a visa. I do agree she is a wacko.

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