Edwin Meese III

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Edwin Meese, III
Meese receiving the Medal of Freedom, October 8, 2019

Edwin Meese III (b. Dec. 2, 1931) is a prominent leader, thinker and elder statesman in the conservative movement – and America itself. From January 1981 to February 1985, Meese held the position of Counsel to the President, the senior position on the White House Staff, where he functioned as President Ronald Reagan's chief policy adviser. He served as the seventy-fifth Attorney General of the United States from February 1985 to August 1988.[1]

Like many leaders of the conservative movement, Meese is critical of the concept of the Incorporation doctrine.[2] He is known as a strong proponent of originalism.

U.S. President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to Meese on October 8, 2019.[3]


Edwin Meese is an expert on the U.S. legal system, law enforcement and criminal justice, intelligence and national security, and the Reagan Presidency. His current research focuses on the criminal justice system, federalism, emergency response management, and terrorism. He was advisor to Reagan at the time of the shootdown of Korean Airlines Flight 007. He is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford University) and is Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and he holds the Ronald Reagan Chair in Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

Meese headed Ronald Reagan's transition effort after the former governor won the 1980 presidential election. During the presidential campaign that year, he served as Chief of Staff and senior issues adviser for the Reagan-Bush Committee.[4]

Early life

Ed Meese was born Dec. 2, 1931, to Edwin Jr. and Leone Meese in Oakland, California.

He graduated from Yale University in 1953 and holds a law degree from the University of California-Berkeley. He is a retired Colonel in the Army Reserve.

Attorney General

  • As the chief law enforcement officer, he led international efforts to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. In 1985, he received the Government Executive magazine's annual award for excellence in management. He served as chairman of the Domestic Policy Council and of the National Drug Policy Board, and was a member of the President's National Security Council.
  • Meese established tough, new policies against pornography. He chaired a Commission on Pornography, which issued a two-volume report in 1986 that stated that there was a causal link between violent pornography and aggressive behavior toward women. The report broke new ground in its exploration of the problem of child pornography. The report also claimed that nonviolent sexually explicit material contributed to sexual violence, a conclusion challenged by many social scientists at the time, but more recently widely accepted.[5]

Pre-Presidential Service

  • From 1977 to 1981, Meese was a professor of law at the University of San Diego, where he also was director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Management.
  • From 1969 to 1974, Meese served as Governor Ronald Reagan's Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff in California, and as Legal Affairs Secretary from 1967 to 1968.
  • Before joining Governor Ronald Reagan's staff in 1967, he served as deputy district attorney of Alameda County (Oakland), California.
  • In addition to his background as a lawyer, educator and public official, Meese has been a business executive in the aerospace and transportation industry. From 1975 until May 1976, he served as Vice President for Administration of Rohr Industries Inc. in Chula Vista, California. He left Rohr to enter private law practice in San Diego County, California.


Meese and his wife, Ursula, live in McLean, Va. and Rancho Santa Fe, California. They have two grown children.


  • His memoirs were published in the 1992 volume With Reagan: The Inside Story (Regnery Gateway).

See also


  1. Edwin Meese III
  2. Meese's Thoughts on the Bill of Rights, New York Times, 1985, "Mr. Meese also noted in those paragraphs that the incorporation doctrine rests on an "intellectually shaky foundation" and is "constitutionally suspect.""
  3. Multiple references:
  4. [1]
  5. [2]

External links