Frederick A. O. (“Fritz”) Schwarz, Jr.

Chief Counsel

Mr. Schwarz is Chief Counsel of the Brennan Center, which he joined full time in 2002. Since graduation from law school in 1960, Mr. Schwarz has had an uncommon career, mixing the highest level of private practice with a series of critically important public service assignments. 

Mr. Schwarz’s private practice was all at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he was a litigation partner with a broad and varied practice.

In government: from 1975-76 Mr. Schwarz was Chief Counsel to the Church Committee (or as it was formally known, the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Activities with Respect to Intelligence Activities). He was New York City Corporation Counsel under Mayor Edward I. Koch (1982-86). Then in 1989, he chaired the Commission that extensively revised New York City’s Charter. And from 2003-08 he chaired the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Mr. Schwarz received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1957 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1960, where he was an editor of the Law Review. After a year’s clerkship with Chief Judge J. Lumbard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, he worked one year for the government of Northern Nigeria as Assistant Commissioner for Law Revision under a Ford Foundation grant, then in 1963, he started at Cravath where he became a partner in 1969.

Mr. Schwarz has written three books. The latest, Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy (The New Press, April 7, 2015), illuminates one central question: How much secrecy does good governance require? His prior book, also written at the Brennan Center (with Aziz Huq), is Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror (The New Press, 2007; paperback 2008). The earlier book was Nigeria: The Tribes, the Nation, or the Race – The Politics of Independence (The MIT Press, 1965). He has also written numerous op-ed and magazine articles, the earliest being a 1966 article on “The United States and South Africa: American Investments Support and Profit from Human Degradation.”

Mr. Schwarz has long been involved in the nonprofit sector. Among many other things, for almost twenty years, he served as Chair of the boards of both NRDC and the Vera Institute of Justice, on whose boards he continues to serve. He also chaired the board of Atlantic Philanthropies and the Fund for the City of New York.

At the Brennan Center, Mr. Schwarz has tried three cases, testified frequently before Congress, edited various reports, and written substantially. While at the Brennan Center, he was awarded the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal for distinguished service in the law, and the Ridenhour Courage Prize “in recognition of his life-long commitment to strengthening democracy and the rule of law.”