The former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor and staunch critic of President Trump, is representing Nestle and Cargill in a lawsuit accusing the two companies of aiding and abetting child slavery in Cargill, Inc. v. Doe and Nestle USA, Inc. v. Doe.
“There is an increasing and disturbing trend of criticizing lawyers for the clients they represent and for advancing arguments that are well within the bounds of zealous advocacy. Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal is the latest such target,” Holder wrote in his op-ed published on Law.com.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of “six former child slaves trafficked from Mali to work on Ivorian cocoa farms,” who say Nestle and Cargill were aware of alleged child slavery but brought them to plantations anyway.
“Petitioners, two U.S. corporations, have long supported and maintained a system of child slavery and forced labor in the Ivory Coast. This is extremely profitable for Petitioners,” the lawsuit states.
Holder cited Katyal’s experience representing “alleged enemy combatants held in Guantanamo” as an example of another time the lawyer was “attacked from one side of the political spectrum.”
In both the Nestle and Guantanamo cases, Holder argued, “the criticism is equally misguided.”
“Katyal was neither defending the waging of war on America nor defending child slavery. Instead, he was ably advancing detailed and somewhat technical arguments about the scope of federal statutes. The idea that in doing so in this latest matter he was defending child slavery is simply wrong,” Holder wrote.
Katyal has received criticism for defending Nestle and Cargill in court from the public on social media and tough questioning from Supreme Court justices.