Partner, Arnold & Porter
John Bellinger heads Arnold & Porter’s Global Law and Public Policy practice. He joined the firm in 2009, after holding several senior Presidential appointments in the US government, including as The Legal Adviser to the Department of State from 2005 to 2009 under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House from 2001-2005.
Mr. Bellinger represents individuals, corporations, and sovereign governments in litigation in US courts and before international institutions. He has extensive experience in US foreign relations litigation involving the Alien Tort Statute, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and the immunities of foreign governments and government officials. He also advises clients on other public international law matters, including international humanitarian law and human rights law and treaty law. He also counsels US and foreign clients on national security legal and policy issues, including US and multilateral financial sanctions and asset controls, the extraterritorial application of US criminal and civil laws, and transactions reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Chambers reports that Mr. Bellinger has “second-to-none experience in public international law, international litigation and foreign sovereign immunity” and that his “experience at the highest levels of the Executive branch…gives him a distinct and important vantage point on legal issues.”
As the State Department Legal Adviser-a Senate-confirmed position and the most senior international lawyer in the US Government-Mr. Bellinger directed more than 170 lawyers on domestic and international law matters affecting US foreign relations. Before joining the State Department, Mr. Bellinger managed Secretary Rice’s confirmation process and co-directed her State Department transition team. In 2009, Mr. Bellinger received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.
Mr. Bellinger has argued cases before the International Court of Justice (Mexico v. United States – (Medellin)) and the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. He has appeared on numerous briefs in US federal courts, including the Supreme Court, in litigation involving international law issues.
As Legal Adviser to the NSC, Mr. Bellinger advised the President, Cabinet officials, the National Security Adviser, and NSC staff on a wide variety of national security and international law issues. He was present in the White House during the 9/11 attacks was one of the principal drafters of the legislation that created the Director of National Intelligence.
Prior to his service in the Bush Administration, Mr. Bellinger served as Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division at the US Department of Justice (1997-2001); Of Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996); General Counsel of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the US Intelligence Community (1995-1996); and Special Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster (1988-1991).
Mr. Bellinger is an Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations. He speaks regularly about international law matters on US and international television and radio, lectures at US and foreign universities and law schools and he has testified before Congress on numerous occasions on international law issues. He is the author of many law review articles and op-eds on international law, including op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Bellinger is a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog.
Mr. Bellinger is a member of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law; one of four US Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague; and a member of the US “National Group”, which nominates judges to the International Court of Justice. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Society of International Law, the Council of the American Law Institute, the board of the American Ditchley Foundation, and the advisory committee of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Mr. Bellinger is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and he holds an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a JD from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard International Law Journal. He joined Spirit of America’s Advisory Board in April 2019.