Why She Matters
Hogan is one of Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s most faithful aides.
She has worked for Biden for almost 20 years as a top staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Biden is a former chairman). After starting on the committee as counsel in 1991,she was soon promoted to staff director and then to chief counsel for the powerful powerful, which oversees judicial nominations, including often contentious Supreme Court nominations.
Her battle scars will come in handy in her new job as Biden's chief counsel. One of Hogan's first major tasks is to head the White House team that will guide Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor through the Senate confirmation process.
Path to Power
Hogan hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. She received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College in 1979 and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984. She was the editor of the Virginia Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Hogan clerked for Edward Cahn, a U.S. district court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She then took a position as an associate at Williams & Connolly, a prominent Washington, D.C., law firm.(1)
In 1991, Hogan joined Sen. Biden’s staff as the constitutional law counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee that Biden chaired from 1987 to 1995. She was promoted to staff director and then became the committee’s chief counsel. As a Biden staffer, Hogan helped pass the landmark 1994 Violence Crime and the 1995 Control Act and the Violence Against Women Act.(2)
She also advised then-Judiciary Chairman Biden on the Supreme Court nominations of Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer and George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas.(1)
Hogan was named chief counsel to Vice President Biden in November 2008. In a statement, Biden wrote that Hogan is “a brilliant lawyer who was instrumental in guiding the Senate Judiciary Committee though some of its most important challenges in both crime control and judicial selection.”(1)
Hogan has worked on several high-profile pieces of legislation. She was one of the chief architects of the 1994 Violent Crime and Control Act, which provided billions of dollars for 100,000 new police officers, crime prevention programs and prisons. The measure also limited the sale of semi-automatic firearms and created 60 new death penalty offenses.
She championed the 1995 Violence Against Women Act, which allocated $1.6 billion to efforts to reduce the number of domestic violence cases. The law also increases federal grants for battered women’s shelters and funding to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women.(3)
Because of her work with Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hogan has extensive experience with judicial nominations. She joined the chairman's staff shortly before the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and she was part of the group of lawyers who worked on the testimony of Anita Hill and other witnesses.
In particular, Hogan was criticized after the confirmation hearings ended for allowing another witness, Angela Wright, not to testify in front of Congress. Wright said in an interview over the phone with Hogan and other congressional aides that Thomas had made advances towards her similar to the ones Anita Hill described.(4) Instead of requiring Wright to testify, the Senate Judiciary Committee simply accepted the transcript of Wright's interview, a decision that meant Wright's story did not get much attention and had little impact on the confirmation process.(5) Wright said Hogan pressured her to submit the written testimony instead of appearing before the committee, but Hogan said that Wright was relieved not to receive the same intense scrutiny as Hill.(6) Other reports described Biden as the only senator on the committee who wanted Wright to testify.(5)
Hogan remained counsel for Biden for the next two decades and played an integral role during the much-less-controversial hearings for Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. Early in 2009, largely because of her extensive experience with the judicial confirmation process, Hogan was tapped to lead the group of White House staffers aiding Judge Sonia Sotomayor through her nomination to the Supreme Court.(7)
"President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden Announce Key White House Staff," Change.gov
Montgomery, Jeff, "Experts: Clinton in cabinet would be good for Biden," The News Journal, Nov. 22, 2008
Comprehensive Terrorism Prevention Act of 1995, June 7, 1995
Transcript of proceedings, Telephonic interview of Angela Denise Wright, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Oct. 15, 1991
Graves, Florence George, "The Other Woman," The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1994
Borger, Gloria, Gest, Ted and Thornton, Jeannye, "The untold story," U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 12, 1992
Shear, Michael D., "Obama Interviewed Sotomayor Thursday," The Washington Post, May 26, 2009