Matthew M. Collette

Matthew M. Collette

Massey & Gail LLP
The Wharf
1000 Maine Ave. SW
Suite 450
Washington, D.C. 20024

Office: 202.652.4511
Direct: 202.795.3326
Cell: 301.646.8695
Fax: 312.379.0467

Matthew M. Collette

Matthew M. Collette joins Massey & Gail LLP after serving as Deputy Director of the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice and Senior Counsel to the Associate Attorney General. In his three decades as an appellate litigator, Mr. Collette has argued over 80 federal appellate cases, appearing in every federal circuit, and has briefed, argued, or supervised some of the government’s most sensitive and important cases. His wide-ranging experience in complex civil litigation includes constitutional matters, administrative law, commercial litigation, national security law, sovereign immunity, transportation law, admiralty, and environmental law (including the Deepwater Horizon litigation). His DOJ portfolio also included information technology, telecommunications, intellectual property, and the DOJ budget. He brings to bear unmatched expertise in high-stakes disputes involving multifaceted, complicated legal questions. In addition to representing clients in appellate and post-trial proceedings, he also counsels clients on regulatory issues and offers strategic advice for resolving matters without litigation.


  • University of Southern California, J.D. – Class rank: 1st
  • Brigham Young University, B.A.


  • District of Columbia
  • California
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit


  • Considering Race in American Immigration Jurisprudence, 54 Emory Law Journal 681 (2005)
  • Breakdown on State Street: The Future of Business Method Patents, ABA Section on Litigation, IP Litigation Committee Newsletter (Winter 2008) (with Mark Davies)

Awards and Honors

  • Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of National Security, 2010
  • Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, 2008
  • Stuart Schiffer Award, Civil Division, December 2016
  • Leadership, Excellence and Achievement Program (LEAP), 2010-2011
  • Civil Division Award for Dedicated Service, 2009
  • Special Commendation, Civil Division, 1992, 2007
  • Special Achievement Awards, Civil Division, 1990, 1991
  • Civil Division Meritorious Awards, 1993, 1994, 1996-2011
  • Commissioner's Special Citation, Food and Drug Administration, May 2001
  • Commendation from the Secretary of Agriculture for defense of First Amendment challenges to agricultural marketing programs, 2006
  • Commendation, United States Marine Corps, Military Police Company Charlie, 2003-2004

Teaching/Community Involvement

  • Adjunct Professor, Legal Issues in Medicine. Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business. 2007-13.
  • Board of Directors, Rockville Baseball Association, 2004-07.
  • USA Hockey - Level III Coaching Certification, 2001-2009.

Government Service

  • Deputy Director, Appellate Staff, Civil Division; U.S. Department of Justice, 2012-2018.
  • Senior Counsel to the Associate Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 2011-12.
  • Attorney, Appellate Staff, Civil Division; U.S. Department of Justice, 1988-2011

Representative Matters

  • Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565 (2014) (defended an Establishment Clause challenge to legislative prayer on behalf of the United States as amicus before the Supreme Court).
  • Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731 (2011) (represented former U.S. Attorney General in the Supreme Court in a case holding that the AG is entitled to qualified immunity in conjunction with the use of material witness warrants in terrorism cases).
  • Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Ass’n, 544 U.S. 550 (2005) (rejecting a constitutional challenge to federal agricultural marketing programs).
  • In re Frescati Shipping, 718 F.3d 184 (3d Cir. 2018) (appeal reducing by $44 million a damage award against the United States for clean up a major oil spill in the Delaware River caused by CITGO’s failure to provide a “safe berth” for an arriving oil tanker).
  • Competitive Enterprise Inst. v. Department of Transportation, 863 F.3d 911 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (holding that DOT regulation prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights is consistent with the statute banning “smoking” on airlines).
  • Watervale Marine Co. v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 807 F.3d 325 (D.C. Cir. 2015); Angelex Ltd. v. United States, 723 F.3d 500 (4th Cir. 2013) (affirming the Coast Guard’s authority to require foreign-flagged vessels suspected of violating U.S. anti-pollution laws to agree to non-monetary conditions before receiving clearance to leave U.S. ports).
  • In Re Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, No. 14-31374 (5th Cir.) (served as lead appellate counsel for the United States defending the district court’s finding of gross negligence against British Petroleum).
  • Blum v. Holder, 744 F.3d 790 (1st Cir. 2014) (holding that the plaintiff lacked standing to maintain a First Amendment challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act).
  • Judicial Watch v. Department of Defense, 715 F.3d 937 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (upholding the CIA’s decision to withhold classified images of the body of Osama bin Laden taken after the raid that led to his death).
  • American Trucking Ass’n v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin., 724 F.3d 243 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (upholding, after a decade of litigation, federal rules governing the hours of service of federal motor carriers).
  • Al-Bihani v. Obama, 590 F.3d 866 (D.C. Cir. 2010): (successfully handled the first court of appeals decision addressing the merits of a petition for writ of habeas corpus brought by a Guantanamo Bay detainee).
  • Rahman v. Chertoff, 530 F.3d 622 (7th Cir. 2008) (obtained reversal of a ruling that certified a nationwide class action in an action challenging the Terrorist Screening Database).
  • Legal Aid Services of Oregon v. Legal Services Corp., 587 F.3d 1006 (9th Cir. 2009); Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. v. Legal Services Corp., 462 F.3d 219 (2d Cir. 2006) (rejecting constitutional challenge to requirements governing legal services grant recipients).
  • Kikumura v. Hurley, 242 F.3d 950 (10th Cir. 2001); In re Young, 141 F.3d 854 (8th Cir. 1998) (multiple appeals upholding the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as applied to federal law).
  • Igartua v. United States, 242 F.3d 950 (1st Cir. 2000) (obtained reversal of district court decision permitting Puerto Rico to participate in the presidential election).
  • United States v. Walton, 36 F.3d 32 (7th Cir. 1994) (rejecting constitutional challenge to the Anti-Tampering Act).