Sarah Harris represents clients in high-stakes appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal and state appellate courts across the country. She has argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, prevailing in all three, and she has presented many arguments in federal courts of appeals and state appellate courts. Her cases have run the gamut of substantive areas, including constitutional law—especially First Amendment and separation-of-powers issues—as well as administrative law, arbitration, class actions, antitrust, False Claims Act litigation, commercial litigation, and federal civil procedure.
Sarah is widely recognized for her appellate advocacy. Chambers USA has recognized her as “Up and Coming” in Appellate Law, and reported that clients describe her as “a superb advocate at the Supreme Court,” “very collegial and collaborative,” and “prevails in her arguments.” The Legal 500 reported that Sarah “is brilliant, incisive and collegial.” Law360 ranked her as one of five 2021 “MVPs” in Appellate Law. She has been named to Bloomberg Law’s 40 Under 40 list of top lawyers nationwide and to Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List,” as well as a an appellate “Rising Star” by The National Law Journal and Law360, a “Next Generation Lawyer” by The Legal 500, and as one of Bloomberg Law’s “Five Fresh Faces to Know in Appellate.”
Sarah clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Laurence Silberman on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Judge Sandra Lynch on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Before joining Williams & Connolly, she served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Sarah received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, and her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. She also holds a Ph.D. and M. Phil. from the University of Cambridge.
Though all cases vary and none is predictive, Sarah’s experience includes:
- Egbert v. Boule, No. 21-147 (2022). Argued and prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Erik Egbert, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, in a case involving whether to recognize constitutional damages actions against individual federal officers for First Amendment retaliation claims or for Fourth Amendment claims involving border-security-related functions. The decision was 9-0 as to the First Amendment claim and 6-3 as to the Fourth Amendment claim.
- Demkovich v. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish (7th Cir. 2021). Represented coalition of religious groups in support of the parish’s successful argument before en banc Seventh Circuit that the ministerial exception encompasses hostile-work-environment claims and bars courts from second-guessing religious groups’ employment decisions as to their ministers. Amicus brief cited in Seventh Circuit en banc majority opinion.
- Carr v. Saul, 593 U.S. __ (2021). Argued and prevailed 9-0 before the U.S. Supreme Court in significant administrative-law case concerning whether Social Security claimants must exhaust issues before the agency as a prerequisite to judicial review.
- Salinas v. U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 592 U.S. __ (2021). Argued and prevailed in 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision on behalf of petitioner Manfredo Salinas, a former railroad worker, in a case involving whether courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review the Railroad Retirement Board’s decisions denying requests to reopen a prior benefits determination.
- Glaxo Group Ltd. v. DRIT (Del. Supreme Court). In a landmark implied-covenant contractual case before the Delaware Supreme Court, won reversal of a jury verdict against GSK awarding $57 million in royalty payments.
- United States Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com, 591 U. S. ___ (2020). Secured significant Supreme Court ruling in favor of client Booking.com that the addition of a generic top-level domain (".com") to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark.
- Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, 590 U.S. ___ (2020). Secured ruling in client’s favor holding that Superfund site landowners cannot sue defendants to implement an alternative cleanup plan that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved.
- Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, 591 U. S. ___ (2020). Represented coalition of religious groups in support of petitioners’ successful argument that the First Amendment prohibits courts from intervening in religious schools’ employment decisions concerning teachers who instruct students in the faith; amicus brief cited in Supreme Court majority opinion.
- Espinoza v. Montana Dep’t of Revenue, 591 U. S. ___ (2020). Represented coalition of members of the United States Congress in support of petitioners’ successful Free Exercise challenge to a Montana provision prohibiting aid to religious schools; amicus brief cited multiple times in Justice Alito’s concurrence.
- Dolin v. GlaxoSmithKline, 951 F.3d 882 (7th Cir. 2020). Successfully briefed and argued appeal in which the Seventh Circuit affirmed a judgment in GSK’s favor and refused plaintiff’s bid to vacate the Seventh Circuit’s earlier decision that plaintiff’s inadequate labeling claims were preempted. In one of the first appellate decisions after the Supreme Court’s preemption decision in Merck v. Albrecht, the Seventh Circuit held that it would have reached the same preemption holding even after Albrecht.
- Chatfield v. League of Women Voters of Michigan, et al., 140 S. Ct. 429 (2019). Successfully represented the Michigan Senate in a direct appeal of a three-judge panel decision declaring large portions of Michigan’s state and congressional districting plans an unconstitutional political gerrymander. The Supreme Court granted the Michigan Senate a stay and vacated and remanded the lower court judgment after deciding Rucho v. Common Cause.
Recognized as “Up and Coming,” in Appellate Law by Chambers USA, 2021-2022
Appellate Law "MVP," Law360, 2021
Appellate Law "Rising Star," Law360, 2021
Named to Bloomberg Law “40 Under 40,” 2021
Selected to "40 & Under Hot List," by Benchmark Litigation, 2021-2022
Named among “Five Fresh Faces to Know in Appellate," by Bloomberg Law, 2021
“Next Generation Lawyer,” in the category of Appellate Law, The Legal 500, 2017, 2020-2022
“Rising Star,” The National Law Journal, 2017
“Rising Star” for Washington, D.C. Appellate, Super Lawyers, 2014-2017
Other Government Service
Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, United States Department of Justice