John G. Kester was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on
June 18, 19 38. He was educated in the public schools of that
city and received the B.A. degree in 1959 from the University of
Wisconsin, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.- The following
year he studied in France at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille as a
fulbright Scholar. In 1963 he was gradu<1ted maqna cum from
the Harvard Law School, where he was President of the Hacvard Law
From 1963 to 1965 Mr. Kester served as Law Clerk to the
late Associate Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court of the
United States. In 1965 he entered active military service in tbe
U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and served as Assistant
to the General Counsel of the Army until 1968. In 1968 he -also
was Visiting Lecturer in Law at Duke University Law School. From
1968 to 1969 he taught constitutional law as Assistant Professor
of Law at the University of Michigan.
Returning to government service in 1969, he was
appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of tbe Army for Manpower and
Reserve Affairs, and remained in that office until joining the
Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams, Connolly & Califano in
In January, 1977 Mr. Kester was appointe·d by Secretary
of Defen. se Harold Brown to be The Special Assistant to the
Secret’ary and the Deputy Secretary of Defense. In 1979 he again
became a member of the firm of Williams ? Connolly. In 1981, Mr.
Kester was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Board of
Visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was also appointed by
the Secretary of the Navy to the U .$. Naval Academy Ac.ademic
Advisory Board and by the Secretary of Defense to the Defense
Science Board Committee to Review the Environmental Impact of
Basing the MX Missile. He was a Senior Adviser to the u.s.
Senate Democratic Conference Str.ategy Group on National Security
In 1985 Mr. Kester was appointed by President Ronald
Reagan to the President’s Chemical warfare Review Commission. In
1986 he was appointed to the Advisory committee of the Nancy
Reagan Drug Abuse Fund. He also served on the Ptliladelphia
Regional selection Panel of the White House Fellows program.
Mr. Kes. ter from 1982 to 1988 •tJas a member of the Legal
E:thics committee of the District of Columbia Bar. He is a membet
of the bars of the District of Columbia, the supreme court of the
united states, the l/.S. court of International Tr.ade, the u.s.
court of Military Appeals. and many other federal courts. He is
also a member of the council on Foreign Relations, the Federalist
Society, the Acquisitions Committee of the Supreme Court
Historical Society, the American Society of International Law,
and the American Bar Association sections on litigation and
administrative law. He is a Pii:ector· of the Historical Society
of the District of Columbi.a Circuit, and a Fellow of tlle American
Bar Foundation.
His writings on legal topics include “Soldiers who
Insult the President: An Uneasy Look at Article.BB of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice” (Harvard Law Review, June,
1968); “Constitutional Restrictions on Political Parties”
(Virginia Law Review, May, 1974); “12 Great Moments of Washington
Law” (Washingtonian, September:, 19 81); “An Un-Supreme Court” { New
\:’ork Times, Sept. 30, 19B2); “The Law Clerk Explosion”
(Litigation, Spring, 1983); “Are Lawyers Becoming Public Enemy
Number. One?” (Washingtonian, February, 1984); “Faculty
Participation in the.Student-Edited Law Review” (Journal of Legal
Education. March, 1986); “State Governors and the Federal
National Guard” ( Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policv,
Winter, 1988); “Some Myths of United States Extradition Law”
(Georgetown Law Journal, April, 1988); “Bush’s Court”
(Washingtonian, Match, 1990); “No Holds Barred” (Washingtonian,
April 1991}; and “Nowhere To Hide” (Washingtonian. January 1993).
Mr. Kester’s writings on military subjects include “The
Future of the Joint Chiefs of staff” (/\EI Foreign Policy&.
Defense Review, February, 19B0); “Do We Need the Service
Secretary?” (Washington ouarterly. Winter, 1981); “Designing a
u.s. Defense General Staff” {Strategic Review, Summer, 1981);
“Revamp the Joint Chiefs of Staff” (Wall street Journal. May 8,
1982); “Politics and Promotions” (Parameters. December 19.82);
“Strengthening Defense Without Breaking the Budget” (with Walter
Slocombe) in Center for National Policy, Budget and Policy
Choices 1983; “America’s Strongest Military Officer” (New York
Times. Nov. 19. 1983); “Thoughtless JCS Change Is Worse Than
None” ( Armed Forces Journal International, November, 1984); “The
Role of the Joint Chiefs of staff” in Kaufman et al., eds., !J….S..,..
National Security (1985); “The Office of the Secretary of Defense
With a Strengthened Joint staff system” in Blechman and Lynn,
eds .. Toward a More Effective Defense (1985); “The Reasons To
Draft” in Bowman et al .. eds., Ihe All-volunteer Force After a
Decade ( 1986) ;· and “T. he Chemica. l warfare Review Commission — Two
Years Later” in center for Strategic and International studies,
Chemical Warfare Policy (1987).
Mr. Kester has been awarded the Depar:tment of the Army
Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service. and the Department
of Defense Medal for: Distinguished Public Service. He has three
sons and resides in Alexandria. Virginia.