ORAL HISTORY OF WILLIAM B. SCHULTZ, ESQ.
This is the first in a series of interviews of William B. Schultz conducted by Stephen J. Pollak on
behalf of the Oral History Project of the District of Columbia Circuit. This interview was
conducted on January 12, 2021.
Mr. Pollak: Good morning, Bill. This Tuesday, January 12, 2021. This is the first interview
in your oral history being sponsored by the Historical Society of the D.C.
Circuit. I am in my home where I am isolating with my wife during the Covid
era, and my understanding is you’re in your home in D.C. isolating as well with
Mr. Pollak: Why don’t you give us your full name and the date and place of your birth.
Mr. Schultz: My full name is William Barnett Schultz. Barnett was my mother’s maiden
name. I was born in Bloomington, Indiana on March 16, 1948.
Mr. Pollak: What are your earliest memories of that coming out of being born and entering
the world in Bloomington, Indiana?
Mr. Schultz: We moved from Bloomington, Indiana when I was in kindergarten. There is a
demarcation of that time, and anything I remember in Bloomington I know is
before I was five or five and a-half. I have a smattering of memories. There were
some kids next door who were a little bit older than me, and I remember them
playing the Korean War, pretending to be soldiers in the backyard. I remember
going with my mother as she campaigned for Adlai Stevenson, I guess in 1951, in
very rural parts of Indiana. Not necessarily very friendly to a Democratic
presidential candidate. I have clear memories of playing with friends up the
street. All my parents’ friends were professors at Indiana University.
Mr. Pollak: What was your family doing in Bloomington?
Mr. Schultz: My father had gone to law school and then after law school, he had gone into the
Army in World War II. After four years in the Army, he had come to
Washington, D.C. He went to Yale Law School, and in those days, he told me
approximately two-thirds of the graduates went into government and that had
always been what he wanted to do. After service in World War II, he and my
mother moved to Washington, D.C., and he worked for the Federal Power
Commission as a lawyer in their General Counsel’s Office. But it was the time of
the McCarthy era, and for him it wasn’t a good time to be in the government.
He had a friend from law school, John Frank, who had gone to teach at Indiana
University. John called him and said, “Would you be interested in being a law
professor here?” I am not sure it was something he had ever thought about, but
he went and interviewed for the position. It was a very small, kind of exciting
faculty in those days. So he and my mother moved out to Bloomington, Indiana.
My mother was from New York City, so it was quite a change for them.
Both my brother and I were born there, and my parents loved it. They loved the
university life and the close friends they made. But they also really loved
Washington, and always had the idea of coming back to Washington.
Mr. Pollak: Did you remain in Bloomington long after you were born?
Mr. Schultz: We were there until I was in kindergarten.
Mr. Pollak: I see.
Mr. Schultz: I’ll tell you a funny story about our leaving Bloomington. I remember when I was
in kindergarten telling my teacher that my family was going to move to
Washington, D.C., and her reaction to that was, “Oh no, you have to be wrong.
You’re just a little kid. If you were moving and leaving, I would know about
that.” I remember the satisfied feeling I had the day we were going to move. My
father came in to pick me up and told my teacher this was my last day, that we
were moving to Washington, D.C. I’m sure I didn’t say anything, but I remember
being very satisfied by that.
My father was a teacher at the university, and he used to come home for
lunch every day. I was always pretty mechanical, and I remember one day
apparently my mother was down in the basement doing laundry and I got up on a
chair and locked her in the basement. And, for whatever reason, I wouldn’t let
her out or didn’t know how to let her out. Fortunately, because my father came
home for lunch, he was able to rescue her.
There is a memory I barely have, and I don’t know whether I remember
from having been told the story or actually remembering the incident. But my
father in the summers did various jobs. For example, one summer he went to
D.C. and worked at Covington & Burling as a law professor-in-residence.
One summer we went to Florida where he taught summer school at the
University of Florida.
Mr. Schultz: These were in the days when parents were a lot less attentive about auto safety.
Apparently, he stopped somewhere to do an errand and left me in the car at age
two-and-a-half or three, and went into the store or wherever, and I climbed into
the front seat. This was a post-World War II car, and it was very bare. I was able
to climb under the dashboard where all of the wires were, connect some wires,
and completely burn out all the wiring in the car, without getting hurt,
fortunately. My mother had to take my brother and me home in an airplane while
my father got the car fixed. I guess those are some my memories.
Mr. Pollak: Say a few words about your grandparents. Where were they born, and were they
part of your early life?
Mr. Schultz: My father grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both of his parents were immigrants
from Austria and from what at the time was Russia. They both came over when
they were very young with their families. My grandfather went to school until he
was maybe thirteen, when he was kicked out of his house because of an incident
that involved firing a gun near his half-sister, who was not hurt. He ended up
sleeping on couches at friends of his father’s.
Mr. Pollak: Is this in the U.S. or abroad?
Mr. Schultz: This is all in Cincinnati, Ohio. My grandfather was banned from the house by his
stepmother – classic evil stepmother.
My paternal grandmother was the oldest of nine kids who immigrated,
and she went to school until the second grade. She then had to work in a factory
in order to help support the family. Other kids in her family received more
education. When my father went to college, he went to Yale University, and he
taught her to read and write so she could correspond with him because she
otherwise wouldn’t have known how to even write a letter.
My grandfather had a lot of different jobs. When I knew him, he
managed apartments and sold real estate. My father’s upbringing was very
My mother’s parents lived in New York City. They both were born in
this country. My grandmother’s father was a very successful businessman and
was fairly wealthy. My grandmother’s parents, I think, had been from Germany.
My grandfather’s parents were Jewish, and I was told they were from England.
But they had been in this country for a long time. My grandfather’s father died
when he was eleven. So he never went to college, although he was very, very
intelligent and the family always said he had a photographic memory. He even
saved some papers he wrote and projects he had done in school, which I
remember reading – they were very impressive.
My grandmother on the other hand went to Columbia University. She
was the only one of my grandparents who went to college.
Mr. Pollak: I see. What were the names of your grandparents?
Mr. Schultz: On my father’s side, it was Max and Goldie. Max Schultz and Goldie Wise, who
became Goldie Schultz. Two good Jewish names.
On my mother’s side, it was Rosalind and Harold Barnett. She had been
Mr. Pollak: In your home you had one sibling, a brother. Is that right?
Mr. Schultz: I had three. I had a brother who was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and two
sisters who were born after we moved to Washington, D.C.
Mr. Pollak: I see. What were the family politics and activities and interests as you saw them
in your youth?
Mr. Schultz: We lived in a neighborhood in Virginia called Hollin Hills. It was a neighborhood
of modern homes at the time. The architect was Charles Goodman, who built a
number of communities around D.C. But my theory was because of these
modern homes, it attracted Democrats. So, I grew up in a neighborhood of very
few Republicans. Our neighbors were very progressive. I remember when I was
at Public Citizen Litigation Group, a Ralph Nader group where I began my
career, I looked up who the members were. There were many members of Ralph
Nader’s group from Hollin Hills. There were old-fashioned Adlai Stevenson
liberals. So I grew up in that kind of atmosphere.
All my grandparents were Jewish, but my parents were not religious. My
mother’s family had been in the U.S. and in the New York area for many years
before World War II. Although her parents belonged to a synagogue, it really
wasn’t a part of their lives. They celebrated Christmas, for example, probably
Christmas and Hanukkah. But my mother didn’t have any interest in religion.
The debates I had with her were about whether is it appropriate to be an atheist or
In my father’s case, I think religion was a part of his life. His family was
part of a reform synagogue in Cincinnati led by a very famous reform rabbi,
Rabbi Wise. So he went to synagogue. But just to show you how things have
changed, he did not have a bar mitzvah. He was confirmed and read from the
Torah in English. That’s where the reform movement was in those days.
He always identified himself as Jewish. When it came to religion in their married
life, my parents never went to synagogue. They sent us to Unitarian Sunday
school. I think they thought we ought to learn about religion. The neighborhood
I grew up in had many Jewish families but very few of them were practicing. I
only went to one bar mitzvah growing up, for example. Because it was
Washington, D.C., many people did not have families here and so they did not
have that kind of religious tie. And because they didn’t have families, my
parents’ closest friends almost became like family.
Mr. Pollak: And so religion was not a particularly large part of your early life, is that right?
Mr. Schultz: Right, it was not a significant part of it at all.
Mr. Pollak: And did that change later in your life?
Mr. Schultz: Well, it changed some. Skipping ahead, my wife Sari Horwitz grew up in
Tucson, Arizona, and religion was very important to her. She couldn’t imagine
not belonging to a synagogue or not going to services during the High Holy Days.
She probably couldn’t have imagined marrying someone who wasn’t Jewish, and
I always teased her that I qualified only in the most technical sense. When I grew
up, I couldn’t have told you whether the High Holy Days were in the fall or in the
spring. I think my mother did buy gefilte fish in those days. But we did not
observe – I never went to a Passover seder growing up.
Anyway, religion was important to Sari, so we started going to
synagogue, which I was actually very interested in. And we sent our daughter to
the nursery school at Adas Israel. We joined a conservative synagogue even
though Sari had grown up in a reform synagogue.
I had the overwhelming feeling every time I went to services that
everybody there knew all the prayers in Hebrew and I knew nothing. At some
point when our daughter started going to Hebrew School, there was the
opportunity to take lessons in Hebrew. And in order to be able to participate, I
took those lessons. Then came an opportunity to do an adult bar mitzvah. This
was in the conservative movement. It was very common for women because
women who grew up orthodox or conservative were not allowed to do a bat
mitzvah. So the opportunity of studying for an adult bat mitzvah was available to
women but it had not been for men. This was, I think, the first time maybe any
conservative synagogue in this country had an adult bar mitzvah class.
I studied with a group of men for two years and then our class had a bar
mitzvah where I read from the Torah and led some of the prayers.
The result was that I enjoyed being in synagogue. There were times when
Rachael, my daughter, and Sari, my wife, and I traveled to Europe and went to
synagogues there, and I actually knew enough that I could participate in the
prayers. It was just quite a remarkable thing to think that Jews all over the world,
on certain days, were saying the exact same prayers.
Mr. Pollak: When were you bar mitzvahed?
Mr. Schultz: I started classes when I was at the Department of Justice, I think, roughly the late
1990s. I think I had my bar mitzvah in 2003 or 2004. It was very close to when
my daughter had her bat mitzvah.
Mr. Pollak: Bill, did you attend public school in Hollin Hills?
Mr. Schultz: Yes. As I said, we left Bloomington when I was in kindergarten and I ended
going to three different kindergartens. There was a public school, Hollin Hills
Elementary School. I attended that school, William Cullen Bryant Intermediate
School, and Groveton High School. So public school all the way through.
Mr. Pollak: And were those schools integrated?
Mr. Schultz: That’s a great question. Not initially. I think probably in grade school there may
not have been any Blacks who lived close enough. In intermediate school, which
was seventh and eighth grades, it was not integrated. The intermediate school
was on Quander Road. I think the Quander family, who were African American,
probably owned all that land at one time, and they still lived in that
neighborhood. But Tony Quander was not permitted to go to my intermediate
school. By the time I got into high school, it was integrated. I don’t remember a
great announcement – it was an organic thing from my perspective. But there
were a number of African American kids in the high school who were very much
in the minority.
But I’ll tell you one story that shows how the times have changed. I was
active in student government and a year ahead of me was an African American
student who was vice president of the student government and I think his senior
year and my junior year, when I had been elected treasurer, there was a state
convention for student governments. Virginia at that time had two separate state
conventions. One was for predominantly black schools and one for
predominantly white schools. We were predominantly a white school, so we
went to the one for predominantly white schools in southern Virginia.
Arrangements were made for all of us to stay in the homes of people
there. But there was no private home for Ray Barber, the African American vice
president of our high school, to stay. None of the people who had homes would
allow him to stay with them. He ended up staying in a hotel to attend this
convention while the rest of us were in private homes. And I do remember so
many interesting conversations about integration. This meeting was for schools
in the entire State of Virginia. A lot of these students came from places that still
were devoted to segregation.
Mr. Pollak: Can you place when you were doing that in relation to massive resistance
following the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education?
Mr. Schultz: As you know, Brown v Board of Education was decided in 1954. This was
eleven years later, in 1965 and when massive resistance was at its height. I
remember conversations where some of these kids were just totally negative
about integration and how awful this was. I remember another student from a
school in a progressive area near us, Fort Hunt High School, who said, “Well, I’ll
tell you what happened when our school integrated. Our sports teams really
improved – our football team became one of the best football teams in the state.”
This comment would seem inappropriate today, but he was trying to relate to
these kids in a way that they could accept.
I was aware of massive resistance, obviously. I remember my parents
talking about people who took their kids out of public school because the schools
weren’t integrated. For me, I just don’t remember it being a dominant thing. I
knew my parents favored integration. I remember the Martin Luther King March
on Washington was 1963. There was some interest among a lot of us in going
but I remember my parents saying, “We’re too afraid there may be violence.” So
we did not make the trip into Washington.
Mr. Pollak: Were you a reader as a young person?
Mr. Schultz: Such a great question. No, I don’t think I really was. My brother was a great
reader. But I think I was much more interested in sports and friends and outside
activities. Interestingly, when I got to college it all changed. Even though I had a
massive amount to read in college, I was always reading extra things – not just
the newspaper but books. But I really was not a reader until college. I don’t
know the explanation for that. I read books and enjoyed them, but I wasn’t
reading everything in sight or every newspaper.
Mr. Pollak: Remind me. Your brother was older or younger?
Mr. Schultz: He is a year younger.
Mr. Pollak: I see. Do you remember sibling competition? Were you displaced by the
Mr. Schultz: Well, I wouldn’t say I was displaced, but there was definitely sibling competition.
I remember it very well. Just to give you an example, we both played tennis. We
were both on the high school tennis team. We were probably pretty equal. But I
can remember the only time in our entire lives – and it was when I was in college
– when he beat me. He was able to beat me only one time because the
psychological advantage I had as the older brother was so great. Not only can I
remember when he beat me, I can remember my excuse for why I lost.
There was sibling rivalry in every possible respect. I think it stayed with
him probably a lot more than it did with me because the older sibling has such
advantages. It disappears eventually but there was a 13-month difference. And
when you’re young that one year makes such a difference just in terms of your
confidence and your ability to be better, particularly at sports.
Mr. Pollak: And what about with your sisters?
Mr. Schultz: My sisters were Kathy, who is seven years younger than me and Caroline, who is
eleven years younger.
Mr. Pollak: There was a big gap.
Mr. Schultz: Yes, there was a big gap and that was a very different relationship. I think I can
say they just adored their older brothers. And we took care of them. We even
learned to change their diapers when they were infants. We were very proud of
them and played games with them. It was a wonderful relationship. When I went
to college, Caroline was really very young. I wasn’t at home when my younger
sisters were growing up, but it was a great relationship. It always made me want
to have a girl and made me feel very lucky to have a girl when I had my own
Mr. Pollak: Did your family read newspapers, would you follow current events as a child?
Mr. Schultz: We got The Washington Post. In those days, that was not the major paper, but I
guess it was the progressive paper. I remember when my parents needed to
advertise something to sell, they would advertise in the Evening Star because that
was the predominant paper. The Post was the morning paper, and the Star was
the afternoon paper. To make money, I delivered The Washington Post for years.
Mr. Pollak: On your bicycle?
Mr. Schultz: No, no. The papers were too heavy. We walked Almost everybody in the
neighborhood subscribed. A lot of people subscribed to two papers – both the
morning and the afternoon paper.
Mr. Pollak: Do you remember what you got paid?
Mr. Schultz: I remember that the charge for a month was $1.95 and I had to take around a roll
of nickels because a lot of people wanted change. I went around in person to
collect. A lot of people gave me $2.00 and wanted a nickel back. I think I made
about $40.00 a month, which was a lot of money. It allowed me to save money.
And my brother and I did it together. We did it until about the 8th grade. It
involved getting up at 5:00 in the morning. I remember that the year I stopped
doing it, my grades were spectacular. I had all that extra time, not to mention
I think I read the newspaper, but I didn’t read it every day or obsessively.
In terms of the conversation around the table, it was very much politics just
constantly, and many arguments about politics. I remember when I had my first
appellate argument and my wife asked, “How do you do this? This looks so
difficult and combative.” I said, “This is nothing like sitting at the dinner table
when I was growing up.” I was well prepared for confrontations with lawyers by
my experiences growing up. My mother probably more than my father was the
one who challenged us. My mother was tough.
Mr. Pollak: What place did World War II play in your family?
Mr. Schultz: It’s a good question. I was born in 1948. My father fought in World War II, but I
don’t remember many conversations about World War II or anything really very
significant about World War II. I know my father after the war got some books
because of the GI Bill that he used to study for the bar exam. They were
interested in just sliding back into life after World War II.
Mr. Pollak: Did the family travel?
Mr. Schultz: Not so much. We never traveled abroad, except for one trip to Mexico when I
was in college. We would travel to Cincinnati to see my grandparents by car, at
least from Indiana we would travel by car. And we traveled to New York City to
see my mother’s parents. We would go to the beach, Rehoboth Beach, in the
summer. When I got to high school, we had some friends who had a house in
New Hampshire, and we started going there over Christmas vacation to ski. But
the travel was all within the eastern United States and to Ohio to visit with my
grandparents. I didn’t fly in an airplane until college.
Mr. Pollak: And both your parents went to college. Where did they go?
Mr. Schultz: My mother went to Vassar College and my father went to Yale. And then my
father went to Yale Law School.
Mr. Pollak: I see. Who were your early role models moving through high school up to
Mr. Schultz: It’s a good question. I always had the greatest admiration for my father. No
question about that. You will be interested in this. I remember really admiring
John Jones. John Jones lived in Hollin Hills for a period of time.
Mr. Pollak: Who was that?
Mr. Schultz: John Jones. I think you knew him at Covington & Burling.
Mr. Pollak: Yes.
Mr. Schultz: John Jones did a lot of different things. For example, he bought a table saw and
learned carpentry. There was a point when my father and he built a fort behind
our house – a little kids’ fort – and they did it with bricks and mortar; there was a
wood roof and shingles on it. He did that with John Jones because John Jones
could do that sort of thing.
John Jones went on to master computers and learned how to fly a plane.
He wrote crossword puzzles and had one published in the New York Times. At
one point he ran for the school board, and my father was his campaign manager,
but he lost by something like 28 votes. I really admired John Jones because he
could do so many different things. I don’t think I had particular role models. I
had some excellent teachers, but I never really saw them as role models.
Mr. Pollak: Did you do well in school?
Mr. Schultz: Yes, I did well. I wasn’t first in my class. I was excellent at math and some other
subjects. I did well and I did better as I went along. In grade school, I got
terrible grades in handwriting and art, which were on your report card. As things
went along, the things I wasn’t good at became less important.
Mr. Pollak: Let’s look at the high school time. How big was the high school? What were
Mr. Schultz: I think there were 380 kids in my senior class in high school.
I always was on the tennis team in high school, and we had a very good
tennis team. We were undefeated in my senior year and we were very strong
most years. I think I was on the JV team my freshman year and then on the
varsity team after that. I was the most valuable player in my senior year. I
wasn’t the best player, but I won the most matches.
We would play singles and doubles. I was pretty short – I grew late. Net
was never really my game. I always played back. My doubles partner, Alex
Sinaiko was the same. I remember we were always retrievers – we were not
players who rushed to the net and put the ball away that way.
My other major activity was the debate.
Mr. Pollak: How did you get into that?
Mr. Schultz: I really don’t know why. I got into it freshman year. Freshman year my Latin
teacher was also the debate coach, and she was spectacular. Unfortunately, she
didn’t stay. I think my school always had a good debate team and I always spent
a lot of time on debate. It required tremendous preparation. Ultimately, you
would have a partner each year and you would go to debate tournaments. You
would do the opening statements and then the questions back and forth. Then a
winner was always declared. My senior year we were a strong team but did not
win the league.
I remember we would separately attend tournaments, and there would be
these guys sort of strutting around because they believed they were so
accomplished. But, for whatever reason, my senior year, my debate partner and I
had spectacular results in the tournaments. I think it was because we had a novel
way of arguing the question. In the league, everybody knew what we were doing
but we took people by surprise in these tournaments. We won some major
tournaments and brought back to the school some very large trophies.
Mr. Pollak: Did you travel around in Virginia?
Mr. Schultz: I remember there was one in Richmond, so maybe that would be the whole state
or whole region and we won that tournament. There was one in New York and to
our shock we won that tournament. There were others. Anyway, that was a fairly
big part of high school as well.
Mr. Pollak: Did you attribute to that debating experience an affinity for law later in life?
Mr. Schultz: Maybe. I think my interest was triggered because my father was a lawyer, and I
had so much respect for him. A lot of his friends were lawyers. And maybe
because of the debating. There wasn’t anything I knew that would say I wasn’t
suited to be a lawyer. The truth is, I think I assumed I would be a lawyer, unless
something better came along. But I didn’t know I was going to be a lawyer. It
was always in the background as an option that maybe would make sense for me.
Mr. Pollak: How did you spend your summers in high school?
Mr. Schultz: At camp. There were four kids in the family, and frankly I think we drove my
mother crazy. So, my parents had to figure out something to do with us in the
summers. They started sending us to Camp Shohola, which was a Quaker camp
run by the headmaster of Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. I started
going when I was twelve years old. The year before we went to Camp Letts in
Annapolis for a couple of weeks. Then we went to Camp Shohola.
We were supposed to go for a month, and I just loved it. So did my
brother. I remember my parents saying, “Well, if you want, you can stay for two
months.” For the next three years, I was a camper and then at age 15 I became a
counsellor at that camp.
Mr. Pollak: Was it rural – you know around water, swimming?
Mr. Schultz: Yes, it was in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, a five- or six-hour drive from D.C. It
was on a lake where you could swim and canoe. The lake wasn’t big enough to
do water skiing or sailing. There was tennis, crafts, and other sports. It was a
whole new group of friends.
Mr. Pollak: A boys’ camp?
Mr. Schultz: It was a boys’ camp. There was a sister girls’ camp that my sisters went to. That
wasn’t a successful experience for them, and they didn’t go for as long. They
ultimately ended up going to other camps. We had dances I think every week
with the girls’ camp.
Mr. Pollak: Up to selecting a college, I would like to ask you if there are events in your precollege years that we haven’t touch on that you would like to refer to or anything
that played a bigger role in your later life that came out of those younger years?
Mr. Schultz: That’s a good question.
There are always things that stick out. I can remember the time in 7th
grade when we were eating a cookie or something and we weren’t supposed to be
and the shop teacher asked me, “Have you been eating a cookie? You’re not
supposed to do that.” And I said, “No.” I remember everybody laughing at me
because I had cookie crumbs all down my shirt. It was a lesson in the risks of
I remember the times I really got caught like that. I remember the time
that some friends of mine and I skipped school to go see the John Glenn parade.
My father, who was very active in the PTA (the parents’ organization for the
school), had a meeting with the principal who mentioned this to him, and my
father told me how embarrassed he was about that.
Mr. Pollak: It suggests a kind of an underlying code of conduct?
Mr. Schultz: Yes. My father was very, very strong on honesty. I mean he really drilled
honesty into us. I’m not going to go through the examples. But there are a
couple of examples I remember where I got caught. It was really drilled into me
that whatever the short-term gains might be, there is never really an advantage to
being dishonest. It made me think about this a lot. There are times when you
have to make exceptions, but they are rare.
For example, my mother-in-law is very sick, and it would be really cruel
to tell her about the coronavirus. She would just worry. Those are very rare
events. I think my father, and to some extent my friends, really drilled that into
I vividly remember, of course, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated,
which was 1963, I was in Latin class —
Mr. Pollak: You were 15 then?
Mr. Schultz: That’s right. I was a sophomore in high school. We had seven periods. I was in
sixth period Latin class and I was translating – probably stumbling over it a little
bit. The announcement came over the loudspeaker that John Kennedy had been
shot. I remember my reaction was, “Oh my god! That means Lyndon Johnson is
going to be president. How horrible.” My impression of Lyndon Johnson was
that he was a southerner and that’s all we needed to know.
I was saved and didn’t have to finish my translation. Shortly after that,
while we were changing classes between 6th and 7th period, it was announced that
President Kennedy had died, which was such a stunning thing. We then went
into 7th period which was biology, and we had a test scheduled in biology. Our
teacher, Miss Wood, said, “Well, I know the president has died, but life must go
on, and you all are taking the biology test.” And I remember it was the worst
grade I got on a test in biology or maybe in anything that year.
After that, I remember I had friends who were driving at that point and we
went out in a car and just drove around aimlessly just not knowing what to do.
Then, my family all went to see the procession. After the service for Kennedy in
the Rotunda, there was a procession to Arlington National Cemetery across the
Memorial Bridge. We all went and stood along that route, still in Virginia but at
the edge of Memorial Bridge, and watched that procession, including the horse
with the unknown soldier facing backwards and so on. That was certainly a big
memory and huge event. My father had friends who were in the Administration.
Mr. Pollak: Other than your father’s military service, did he serve in government?
Mr. Schultz: No. Except as I mentioned for two years after the war, when he was in the
General Counsel’s office of the Federal Power Commission. He always had great
respect for government workers and a lot of the parents of my friends in our
neighborhood worked in the government. It’s interesting, I have so many friends
now whose kids work in Congress or are somehow connected to politics. That
wasn’t true for me when I grew up. We didn’t know congressmen or politicians
except maybe at a local level.
Even though there was a great interest in politics, we weren’t very
connected to it. As I mentioned, my father had some friends who were in the
Administration, particularly at the Justice Department. Byron White, who was a
Deputy Attorney General and then a Supreme Court Justice, was a law school
classmate; Lou Oberdorfer, who was head of the tax division, was a close friend
and best man at my parents’ wedding. I was aware of it from that level, but it
wasn’t very immediate.
Mr. Pollak: So, you were looking – put yourself back – toward graduation from high school
and thinking about college. Tell us about where you wanted to attend or where
you applied and how did you get to the college you finally attended?
Mr. Schultz: When I was about a junior in high school, it was my dad’s 25th college reunion
and he took the whole family. I think that was my introduction to Yale. This was
not a family where we wore Yale t-shirts and he didn’t talk a lot about Yale, so
the reunion was my introduction. From then on out, that’s where I wanted to go.
I applied to other colleges, obviously, not so many because people didn’t apply to
so many then.
In my senior year I had a friend from camp named Mark Cooperman who
was a freshman at Yale. I had another friend, John Nelson, who had been a
football star at our high school. I went on a trip with another friend of mine to
see colleges and we went to Yale and I remember John– this was the beginning of
his freshman year –was very negative about Yale because he felt he was working
all the time and felt so much pressure because he came from a public school. I
visited my friend, Mark Cooperman, and he was having a much better
experience. I remember when I came back and was talking to a parent I knew
and saying I was very concerned about John. She was very nice about this. She
said, “Well you have to understand, John is like my daughter. He sometimes
didn’t have the easiest time in school. You won’t have any trouble.” It was
Anyway, that’s where I wanted to go, and I was very fortunate that I got
in. I was very happy about it. The other thing I will say, from my school,
typically each year one person got into an Ivy League school. In my high school
only about fifty percent of the kids went to college. Many of the best students
didn’t look beyond Virginia. They went to the University of Virginia. My year
was a little different. There were several who went to Yale. The brightest kid in
the class went to Stanford and stayed at Stanford his whole career. He got his
Ph.D. from Stanford and was a math professor there. There were a number of
very talented kids in my high school class. But it was a bit of an unusual thing to
go to a place like Yale.
Mr. Pollak: So, it was your father’s attendance at Yale that played a big role in your choice?
Mr. Schultz: Yes.
Mr. Pollak: What are your memories of college? The interests you pursued? Extracurricular
activities? Debating – did you continue that? Writing, reading, tennis?
Mr. Schultz: I did not continue debating. I think where I started, I was a little terrified by the
academics. I went to a public school that was not very demanding. I knew that.
I had some very good teachers, but all in all, it wasn’t particularly demanding. I
was very aware that when I got to Yale, fifty percent or more of the kids were
from private schools and were very, very well prepared.
I do remember my father telling me that his experience was that the
private school kids did much better in the beginning, but it flipped after that
because they lost interest in doing the hard work a little bit. Anyway, I was very
focused on working hard and making it. And I wasn’t alone. One of my close
friends at Yale, David Miller, came from a public school in California. I
remember him telling me he didn’t buy a class ring because he was afraid he
wouldn’t make it through freshman year. He ended up being first in our class.
You were just thrown in with a thousand kids. I remember Kingman
Brewster, the president of Yale, who was a big public figure at the time. He gave
a speech to the freshman students about how many had been valedictorians and
how many had gotten perfect college board scores. It was all pretty intimidating.
Mr. Pollak: I remember those talks by deans of the Yale Law School. One always had the
feeling that I could never have gotten in if I was a year or two later.
Mr. Schultz: Yes. I’ve always had that feeling for sure with a lot of things I’ve done. They
had what they called headmasters of college. Yale was broken into twelve
residential colleges. The freshman all lived on what was called the old campus,
the original university.
In the 1930s, a wealthy benefactor named Harkness had seen the college
system at Oxford. He went to Yale and the story I heard is that he told Yale, “I’d
like to fund that here.” And Yale turned him down. He went to Harvard and they
accepted. When Yale saw what Harvard did, those in charge changed their mind
and went back to Harkness and said, “You know, we would accept this money.”
So, he financed the college system at Yale and each college had about 300 or 400
students. The freshman all lived together on the old campus. Then sophomore
year they moved to the college. Each college had a master and a dean. The
master would never be called that today and is now referred to as the head of
Ours was John Hersey, the famous writer, who had written the Pulitzer
prize winning New Yorker article on Hiroshima after World War, among other
things. He was not an academic, didn’t have a Ph.D., but Kingman Brewster
convinced him to come and be a headmaster at Yale. And Hersey then brought in
all sorts of fascinating speakers, writers, and singers to the college.
I remember once, for example, in the small Pierson dining hall there was a
little concert with a guitarist that nobody had ever heard of. I went and listened
to him and he was terrific. His name was James Taylor. And a year later he was
Hugh Sidey wrote a column on the presidency for Time magazine, and he
taught a small seminar on the presidency at Pierson College, which I took. I
remember William Styron, the great writer, came to speak. It was really quite an
I went to Yale in the fall of 1967. The Vietnam War protests were
starting to build. Initially I supported the war. I figured the smartest people in
the country are running the government. Who am I to second guess what they’re
doing? One of the lessons I learned at Yale was that the students had better
judgment than the smartest leaders. There is a lot more to judgment than sheer
Mr. Pollak: What led you to make that observation?
Mr. Schultz: I think what led me to make it was my personal conversion from being supportive
of the war to realizing that it was a huge mistake. And then realizing that the
president was lying to us about it.
Mr. Pollak: The Vietnam War?
Mr. Schultz: Yes. It really made me skeptical of every war and every government decision
after that. I’m not saying I don’t admire leaders who don’t do the right thing, but
it just made me unwilling from then on out to routinely accept that just because
somebody was in a high position meant that they were making the right decision.
I suspect that was a lesson not just for me but for my generation.
The Vietnam War really dominated a lot of life at Yale during that time.
Mr. Pollak: When did you begin and end your Yale attendance?
Mr. Schultz: I matriculated in the fall of 1966 and I graduated in June of 1970. In the
beginning, there were few protests, but they really increased and there were many
protests in Washington, D.C., that I attended frequently. My friends and I stayed
with my parents and we went and protested the war. I got to be very familiar
with the smell of tear gas.
Mr. Pollak: Did you attend the march on the Pentagon?
Mr. Schultz: No. No, I did not attend but I attended many, many of the marches. Eventually,
the Yale administration started facilitating them. I remember one time I went to
D.C. and Yale had arranged for us to meet with our representative and our
senators. We met with our Senator, William Spong, and our Congressman,
William Scott. We went first to meet with Senator Spong, and he came in the
room and casually sat on a desk – it was a very informal meeting – and I
remember we talked about the Vietnam War, school busing, and other matters of
national importance. I remember him telling us about constituent mail he had
gotten on a Vietnam War resolution. He said that he had gotten something like
3,000 letters from Virginians. They had split exactly down the middle. He was
very open with us about how difficult these decisions were about busing and the
Vietnam War. It was a very, very intelligent discussion.
Then we met with Congressman Scott [who later succeeded Senator
Spong] in his office. As a footnote, at some point he was voted the dumbest
senator in the Senate – the least intelligent. And his response was, “Well, I would
have brought a libel suit, but I was afraid I might lose.”
At our meeting, he sat behind his desk and proceeded to lecture us that we
were irresponsible for opposing the war. He said, “Look, I know that you’re not
representative of all college students. I know many fine college students who
support this important war.” He just berated us. Then he said, “Look, I’m really
sorry but I have to cut this meeting short because there is a very important piece
of legislation that’s on the floor of the House and I need to go speak on it. It’s a
piece of legislation that I know that you all will understand the importance of
because you’re from Virginia. It would basically expand the radius for maybe
five miles to ten miles, I don’t remember the number, of people from our dear
state who would be eligible to work in certain jobs in the District of Columbia
Anyway, we demonstrated against the war. To be very frank about it, the
draft was very much on everyone’s mind. The draft had excluded graduate
students, but that exclusion was eliminated. So, once you graduated from
college, it was unclear what your fate would be. My brother, who also went to
Yale, took Swedish because his plan was to move to Sweden. He did end up
moving to Sweden for a year, although he didn’t need to because he also got a
high draft number. Some students made plans to go to Canada.
The draft was at the forefront. If you got a high number, you probably
were going to be safe and if you got a low number, you weren’t. I turned out to
be right in the middle. But everyone remembers his draft number. (Mine was
166.) At that point, there was tremendous opposition to President Lyndon
Johnson and a tremendous effort to defeat him.
There was a very dynamic Yale Law School graduate then, Al
Lowenstein, and he used to come up to Yale and talk to groups of students. I
went to many of his talks. I remember he would try to recruit students to burn
their draft cards, which was one way of demonstrating against the war. People
would get a draft card that would have their classification and they would go and
actually burn it as a matter of protest. I remember being in a room of twenty
people and Al Lowenstein saying, “If you’re drafted, how many of you will
refuse to go?” And nineteen people in the room raised their hand. I wasn’t one
of them because I really didn’t know what I would do.
I certainly wasn’t willing to make the commitment at that time in front of
a group. Eventually, Al Lowenstein ran for Congress from a district in Long
Island. I spent a lot of that fall working for him, and he won.
There was a huge interest and huge effort in turning around the Vietnam War and
electing progressive people to Congress. We had little appreciation really for all
the things Lyndon Johnson did for health care and civil rights and so on. I think
that was because the war so dominated our conscience.
Several years later the volunteer Army replaced the draft. If you look at it
at that time (and this was after I got out of college), the student interest in the war
really dropped. I think a lot of the interest came from a concern about the nation,
but a certain amount came from self-interest.
I’ll tell you another anecdote from law school. In law school, there is a
speaker series. One of the speakers who came was Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
He gave a terrific speech, but after the speech he said to all the law students,
“How many of you are in favor of the volunteer Army [which was being
proposed to replace the draft]? Basically, the idea is we’ll eliminate the draft and
we’ll just pay those who volunteer. We’ll raise the payments enough that we’ll
just have a volunteer Army.” And he said, “How many of you are in favor of the
volunteer Army?” And everybody raised their hand. And he said, “How many of
you are going to volunteer?” And nobody raised their hand. And he said,
“That’s why I’m against it.” It was a very powerful point. He was rightfully
concerned that a volunteer army wouldn’t include those who were in a financial
position to do something else.
Mr. Pollak: What were you favorite subjects at college? What mentors did you have? How
did it mold you once you became a graduate?
Mr. Schultz: Before I do that, I’ll just tell you one other outside force that influenced my
college years. At the end of college my senior year, the Black Panthers became
very apparent on campus. They were also protesting the Vietnam War. During
this period, students at schools were taking over the libraries and various
administrative offices. It was a stressful time. At one point, there was a huge
meeting of the whole Yale community at the hockey rink on whether to go on
strike because students at this point were striking – they were refusing to go to
class. There was a meeting about it and the vote was split exactly down the
middle, for example 1,287 on one side and 1,287 on the other side. At the time,
there were then some very significant demonstrations in New Haven.
At one point, there was a demonstration against the invasion of Cambodia
that was scheduled to be in New Haven. There were concerns about violence, and
all the stores were boarded up. The Vice President of the United States, Spiro
Agnew, attacked the Yale community. Kingman Brewster, the president of Yale,
really stood up for Yale.
At the same time, the trial of Bobby Seale, a Black Panther accused of
murdering a colleague, was scheduled in New Haven. So, debates about the Viet
Nam War were mixed in with debates about whether Bobby Seale could get a fair
trial as a Black man. Kingman Brewster said publicly he didn’t think he could
get a fair trial, because he was trying to hold the student body together.
Ultimately, there was a demonstration against the Cambodia invasion, and then at
Kent State University the National Guard killed four students.
Meanwhile, Yale partially closed the college down, and the
Administration determined that all classes would be voluntary. Exams were also
voluntary. Students had the option of getting a passing grade or taking exams. I
took all of the exams because I thought it was actually kind of ridiculous. It didn’t
seem to me like much of a sacrifice for the students to refuse to go to school. It
didn’t seem like the right way to demonstrate against the war. There was just
tremendous turmoil in those years. On the college campuses students were really
focused on the Vietnam War.
The one other thing I should also mention before we go to the academics
themselves is football. Football was a very big part of Yale. We went to every
football game and had excellent football teams. My senior year, there were three
players who were drafted into the pros, Brian Dowling, Calvin Hill, and Bruce
Weinstein. Calvin Hill was drafted #1 by the Dallas Cowboys and was quite
successful in professional football. But the star of the Yale football team was
quarterback Brian Dowling, who was notorious. When he was a freshman, the
story was in one game when he was supposed to punt, he got ready to punt, but
instead ran for a touchdown. The play was called back for a penalty, and the
coach told him, “Look, I told you to punt. Why did you disobey my orders?
Now, this time I want you to punt.” Brian Dowling received the ball to punt,
looked around, and ran for another touchdown.
He was a player who did not lose a football game in high school or
college that he completed. The games that were lost were where he got injured
early on and didn’t finish. Senior year we were undefeated. The final game was
always the Yale/Harvard game. It was in Cambridge, so we all went up to that
game. Because I was a senior, they gave us very good seats near the field, on the
sidelines. We were favored to win by a lot and with two and one-half minutes to
go we were ahead 29 to 13. Then through a series of events, where the Yale
offense never touched the ball for two and one-half minutes, Harvard scored 16
points and the final score was 29 to 29. In the Yale Daily News (the Yale
newspaper), the headline was “Harvard wins 29-29.”
The event I was telling you about that was at the hockey rink where the
vote was about whether to strike and it was an exact tie. The headline after that
vote in the Yale Daily News was 29-29. Another tie.
On the academic side, after being kind of afraid at the beginning, I was a
strong student. I ended up doing much better probably in the second half and did
very, very well toward the end of college. I majored in economics. I think I was
attracted to the fact that there was a mathematical side to it and a logic to it.
I took a lot of courses in politics. I think today I probably would have had a
minor or a double major or something. I took some history, English, and so on.
I took lots of courses on the presidency and various other aspects of
politics. I remember I wrote a long paper on George Wallace’s campaign in
1968. It’s a good reminder that this country has always had twenty percent of the
people who were very, very racist and right wing. George Wallace was a
candidate in 1968. There were times when he polled pretty well, and I think he
ended up getting 14 percent of the vote. Those were my interests.
I got close to a few professors. I had a political science professor, Peter
Lupsha, from whom I took several courses. My senior thesis was based on an
idea suggested by him and another professor. At that time, urban renewal was
very popular, and the federal government was spending a lot of money to restore
urban neighborhoods in cities. But there was a lot of criticism of it because it
entailed forcing Black people out of their homes and out of the city, since the
areas being renewed were generally poor areas. An example would be southeast
Washington, which had vibrant neighborhoods. When I grew up in high school
the area had jazz bars and small restaurants that I used to take dates to. The
federal government would give cities funds to restore these neighborhoods to
bring the cities back, particularly after the 1968 riots. The idea was that this is
not a good thing because of the massive dislocation of former residents. There
were also other city neighborhoods that restored spontaneously. Two examples
were Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Half of Georgetown, the east side of
Wisconsin Avenue, had been mostly slave quarters during the times of slavery.
Georgetown had been for a time a very mixed neighborhood with a lot of lowincome housing. It had over time become very popular and had become a very
substantial upper-class neighborhood. And Capitol Hill was a little bit like that
There are other neighborhoods around the country where this had
happened. The idea was to study why did this happen. What caused this to
happen in some neighborhoods and not in others? It was seen as a potential
alternative to urban renewal because it was a gradual and much less disruptive.
There is debate now about whether that’s such a good thing too. That’s what my
paper was on. I studied Georgetown. I did it by looking at building permits and
newspaper articles and other sources.
Mr. Pollak: There was no internet in those days.
Mr. Schultz: Unfortunately, that’s true. I spent a summer at the D.C. government building
reading microfilm and trying to identify which houses had money spent on them
for renovation or whatever kinds of projects where they would have to get
building permits. Then I spent time in the D.C. Public Library and read articles
in The Washington Post and the Washington Star about these neighborhoods to
try to figure it out.
I had done a smaller project with a friend for an economics course where
we studied the effects of urban renewal in New Haven.
Mr. Pollak: New Haven was a center of urban renewal. The mayor was big on it.
Mr. Schultz: Yes, I remember. This project consisted of interviewing New Haven residents. I
remember going into these houses. The first time I saw what they call a house
with a “railroad” design where you’ve got the kitchen and behind it is a living
room and behind is a bedroom, all in a row like a railroad.
I had another teacher named Carey McWilliams, who was the son of
Wilson Carey McWilliams who was a very famous liberal publisher of the Nation
magazine. Carey McWilliams was brilliant. The courses he taught were
seminars on political theory. He was not on the Yale faculty, but I think he was
on the faculty at Rutgers University. I took a number of courses from him and got
very close to him.
He really understood what was going on with the 1968 urban riots. He
understood that many political scientists hadn’t predicted them. And he was in
favor of the Vietnam War. He really pushed his students, including me, to
question our assumptions and to think analytically. So I was exposed to different
points of view of very, very intelligent people that I had to reconcile. It was in
the end a very good education. It was a big place, and a lot of the courses were
large courses and there really was no opportunity to get to know many of the
I remember I took a macroeconomics course and another course from
James Tobin, who was one of the most famous economists in the country. He
had been on the Council of Economic Advisers and later won the Nobel Prize.
He had office hours, and for some reason at one point I went in to see him. He
said it was the first time anybody had come in to see him during his office hours
I think in general the teachers were very intimidating and the students
were reluctant to bother them or to engage with them, although Tobin wasn’t that
way. Yale did have some small seminars and sometimes that allowed you to get
to know teachers.
Mr. Pollak: Did you feel that you were accepted into Yale or that being Jewish play any role
in your being part of that community?
Mr. Schultz: No, I never felt it did, as opposed to my father. He was assigned a roommate
who was Jewish. I think maybe all the Jewish kids had to live together. I think
he probably really felt it. No, I never felt that. Interestingly, when I applied to
Yale, the school asked for my religious affiliation. I wrote down Jewish, but I
could have gone either way. Because of that I was invited to some events at
Hillel, which was the Jewish organization. I still get fundraising requests from
them. But I never participated in any Jewish activities.
Although my roommates were not Jewish, many of my close friends
were. One was Don Davis, to whom I became very close. He developed into a
real radical at Yale. Freshman year he invited me to a seder in Brooklyn at his
house. It was the first time I had ever been to a seder. It was a huge family seder
with of all his uncles and aunts and cousins, and I expected a very formal event –
something to be taken very seriously. We were at one end of a long, narrow
table, and the older people were at the other end. At various times, they were all
reading and singing in Hebrew and the people at our end were talking, ignoring
them. But religion played no part of my life. I didn’t really think about it except
to the extent I might occasionally talk about it with a friend who was Jewish.
I’ll tell you one other story. There was a guy named Dean Shakley, who
was a member of an organization called “The God Squad.” The God Squad was
a fundamentalist organization with a mission of recruiting members. It was a
group of maybe ten people. Dean tried to recruit me. Apparently, I was the
perfect candidate because of my Jewish background but not being at all tied to
Judaism. This was my first introduction to the complex relationship between
Israel and fundamental Christianity.
Mr. Pollak: And that was, as you now see it, your impression of Yale, how it changed you or
how it influenced you going forward. What was the relevance of your college
Mr. Schultz: Well, I got a great education first of all. I really learned how to study. I had to
do work in high school, but I really didn’t know how to study or how to really
Mr. Pollak: How do you study? Describe it. What did you learn?
Mr. Schultz: There is nothing more than going into the library for four or five hours and doing
the work. It wasn’t any more complicated than that. I loved working in the
library. Going to the library – going to the stacks – where there is complete
I liked Yale and I got a lot out of it. I got very excited about the academic
courses and very interested in it. I think I learned a ton, and I’m sure my writing
improved. I think I learned a lot of skills.
I made good friends. I had a much closer-knit group of friends in college
than I had in high school. If I were honest about it, I think the fact that I had a
Yale degree may have counted with some people more than maybe it should
have. It certainly didn’t hurt.
Yale opened my eyes to politics. I left Yale with a strong desire to do
something in the public interest. I had no idea what it was going to be.
My roommate, Don Davis, who was a star student, could have done
anything he wanted, and he went and worked for the Associated Press for two
years after college, and then he worked for the Socialists Workers Party as an
organizer for maybe fifteen years. His work during those years was in factories. I
can remember having these discussions way into the night about all kinds of
things, but many of them deeply political. He and others were skeptical of
lawyers, although many classmates went to law school. I was determined to use
law to do something outside the traditional path.
So when I graduated from Yale, I had no interest in being an ordinary
lawyer. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I remember another friend of
mine, John Neufeld, telling me about Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader had gone to law
school and then he tried to fight the government from inside the system. After
that, I learned about Ralph Nader and I had enormous respect for him. It really
kind of fit me in a way. I wanted to fight the system, but I wasn’t going to burn
down buildings or do it that way. I think I was a very traditional person. My
experience at Yale totally changed the direction of how I wanted to spend my life
and what my values were.
Mr. Pollak: That’s a good place to stop.
ORAL HISTORY OF WILLIAM B. SCHULTZ, ESQ.