Government Experience

  • Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
  • Assistant to the Solicitor General, United States Department of Justice

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts


  • J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1973
    Order of the Coif

    Associate Editor, University of Chicago Law Review
  • A.B., magna cum laude, Brown University, 1970
    Phi Beta Kappa

    Passed Ph.D. preliminary examinations in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and international economics
T +1 202.344.4812
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John F. Cooney


John Cooney focuses on economic regulatory, administrative, and constitutional litigation involving federal agencies at the trial and appellate levels. His areas of experience include financial services, white collar defense, environment, and separation of powers. John has 40 years of experience in regulatory policy making and regulatory litigation. He served as Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, and as Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget. John served as counsel for OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which reviews agency regulations on behalf of the President, and was involved in policy disputes involving legal interpretation of most major federal regulatory statutes.

Significant Matters

Argued and obtained preliminary injunction against moratorium issued by the Secretary of the Interior prohibiting offshore deepwater drilling, Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Salazar, 696 F.Supp.2d 627 (E.D. La. 2010) and successfully argued in the Fifth Circuit against the government’s motion for a stay pending appeal (No. 10-30585).

Represented a large entity that received FEMA Public Assistance grant funds to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina in defending audit by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security.

Financial Services and Securities Litigation

Represented the Republic of France in defense of criminal investigation of Crédit Lyonnais, United States v. Crédit Lyonnais in Executive Life matter, C.D. Cal., No. CR 03-760.

Represented a payment card network in rulemaking by the Federal Reserve Board to implement the Durbin Amendment to Dodd-Frank statute to limit interchange fees on debit cards.

Represented former executive of Riggs Bank in Congressional, criminal, and regulatory proceedings related to money-laundering by foreign officials.

Represented the former chief executive officer of a major investment bank in shareholder derivative litigation pending in the Southern District of New York concerning management of the company.

Represented the Special Litigation Committee of a major bank in investigation of alleged money laundering by its Russian correspondent banks in connection with shareholder derivative litigation in the Southern District of New York.

Represented a Government-Sponsored Enterprise in rulemakings and regulatory implementation issues involving affordable housing rules issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Represented America’s Community Bankers in opposing proposed rule by Federal Housing Finance Board concerning capital of Federal Home Loan Banks.

Represented National Association of Federal Credit Unions in American Bankers Ass'n v. National Credit Union Administration, 38 F.Supp.2d (D.D.C. 2000) and 93 F.Supp.2d 35 (D.D.C. 2000) (field of membership of credit unions).

Appellate Litigation

Pioneer Trial Wind Farm, LLC v. FERC, 798 F.3d 603 (7th Cir. 2015) (successfully defended order allocating costs of bringing new wind farms into electricity grid).

Ealy v. Pinkerton Government Services (4th Cir., No. 12-1252, March 14, 2013) (successfully overturned class action certification on Rule 23(f) interlocutory appeal).

United States Postal Service v. Postal Regulatory Commission, 747 F.3d 906 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (successful defense of agency order concerning remedy for discrimination by USPS).

GameFly, Inc. v. Postal Regulatory Commission, 704 F.3d 145 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (overturned order of Postal Regulatory Commission discriminating against similarly situated mailers).

Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), and Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. (2012) (filed successful amicus brief in support of indigent defendants in two cases that upheld, by votes of 5-4, the defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel in plea bargaining process).

Hettinga v. United States, 560 F.3d 498 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (Overturned District Court decision dismissing Bill of Attainder challenge to federal statute).

Chase v. Public Defender Service, 956 A.2d 67 (D.C. 2008) (Successfully argued that PDS is a hybrid federal entity not subject to D.C. government personnel laws).

Petties v. District of Columbia, D.C. Circuit, No. 06-7074 (May 1, 2007) (Vindicating authority of court-appointed Transportation Administrator under consent decree concerning transportation of special needs students to public schools).

Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167 (2005) (Successful amicus brief in support of application of Title IX to retaliation claim).

National Credit Union Administration v. First National Bank, 522 U.S. 479 (1998) (Field of membership).

Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S. 714 (1986) (Constitutionality of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).

Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) (Constitutional right of undocumented alien children to public education).


Represented defendants and targets in numerous federal environmental criminal prosecutions and investigations; prepared numerous White Papers arguing for non-prosecution.

EcoServices Operations LLC v. EPA (D.C. Cir., No. 11-1189)(definition of “solid waste” in application of Section 129 of Clean Air Act).

Chlorine Chemistry Council v. EPA, 206 F.3d 1286 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (standard for non-threshold carcinogen under Safe Drinking Water Act).

Represented Salt River Project in negotiation with EPA over installation of sulfur dioxide scrubbers for power plant built on the rim of the Grand Canyon.


John is Chair of the Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, American Bar Association. He previously served as a member of the Section Council and Co-Chair of the Section's Banking and Financial Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Constitutional Law and Separation of Powers Committee.

John is a Senior Fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States.

He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.