The Solicitor General of the United States is the fourth-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. The current Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, took office on September 19, 2017.
The United States Solicitor General represents the federal government of the United States before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Solicitor General determines the legal position that the United States will take in the Supreme Court. In addition to supervising and conducting cases in which the government is a party, the office of the Solicitor General also files amicus curiae briefs in cases in which the federal government has a significant interest in the legal issue. The office of the Solicitor General argues on behalf of the government in virtually every case in which the United States is a party, and also argues in most of the cases in which the government has filed an amicus brief. In the federal courts of appeal, the Office of the Solicitor General reviews cases decided against the United States and determines whether the government will seek review in the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General's office also reviews cases decided against the United States in the federal district courts and approves every case in which the government files an appeal.
|Solicitor General of the United States|
Flag of the United States Solicitor General
since September 19, 2017
|United States Department of Justice|
|Style||Mr. Solicitor General|
|Reports to||United States Attorney General|
|Seat||Supreme Court Building and Department of Justice Headquarters|
with Senate advice and consent
|Constituting instrument||28 U.S.C. § 505|
|First holder||Benjamin Bristow|
|Deputy||Principal Deputy Solicitor General|
The Solicitor General is assisted by four Deputy Solicitors General and seventeen Assistants to the Solicitor General. Three of the deputies are career attorneys in the Department of Justice. The remaining deputy is known as the "Principal Deputy," sometimes called the "political deputy" and, like the Solicitor General, typically leaves at the end of an administration. The current Principal Deputy is Jeffrey B. Wall, who succeeded Noel J. Francisco after Francisco was nominated to be Solicitor General in March 2017. The other deputies currently are Michael Dreeben, Edwin Kneedler, and Malcolm Stewart.
The Solicitor General or one of the deputies typically argues the most important cases in the Supreme Court. Other cases may be argued by one of the assistants or another government attorney. The Solicitors General tend to argue 6–9 cases per Supreme Court term, while deputies argue 4–5 cases and assistants each argue 2–3 cases.
The Solicitor General, who has offices in the Supreme Court Building as well as the Department of Justice Headquarters, has been called the "tenth justice" as a result of the close relationship between the justices and the Solicitor General (and their respective staffs of clerks and deputies). As the most frequent advocate before the Court, the Office of the Solicitor General generally argues dozens of times each term. As a result, the Solicitor General tends to remain particularly comfortable during oral arguments that other advocates would find intimidating. Furthermore, when the office of the Solicitor General endorses a petition for certiorari, review is frequently granted, which is remarkable given that only 75–125 of the over 7,500 petitions submitted each term are granted review by the Court.
Other than the justices themselves, the Solicitor General is among the most influential and knowledgeable members of the legal community with regard to Supreme Court litigation. Six Solicitors General have later served on the Supreme Court: William Howard Taft (who served as the 27th President of the United States before becoming Chief Justice of the United States), Stanley Forman Reed, Robert H. Jackson, Thurgood Marshall, and Elena Kagan. Some who have had other positions in the office of the Solicitor General have also later been appointed to the Supreme Court. For example, Chief Justice John Roberts was the Principal Deputy Solicitor General during the George H. W. Bush administration and Associate Justice Samuel Alito was an Assistant to the Solicitor General. The last former Solicitor General to be successfully nominated to the court was Justice Elena Kagan.  Only one former Solicitor General has been nominated to the Supreme Court unsuccessfully, that being Robert Bork; however, no sitting Solicitor General has ever been denied such an appointment. Eight other Solicitors General have served on the United States Courts of Appeals.
Within the Justice Department, the Solicitor General exerts significant influence on all appeals brought by the department. The Solicitor General is the only U.S. officer that is statutorily required to be "learned in law." Whenever the DOJ wins at the trial stage and the losing party appeals, the concerned division of the DOJ responds automatically and proceeds to defend the ruling in the appellate process. However, if the DOJ is the losing party at the trial stage, an appeal can only be brought with the permission of the Solicitor General. For example, should the tort division lose a jury trial in federal district court, that ruling cannot be appealed by the Appellate Office without the approval of the Solicitor General.
When determining whether to grant certiorari in a case where the federal government is not a party, the Court will sometimes request the Solicitor General to weigh in, a procedure referred to as a "Call for the Views of the Solicitor General" (CVSG). In response to a CVSG, the Solicitor General will file a brief opining on whether the petition should be granted and, usually, which party should prevail.
Although the CVSG is technically an invitation, the Solicitor General's office treats it as tantamount to a command. Philip Elman, who served as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office and who was primary author of the federal government's brief in Brown v. Board of Education, wrote, "When the Supreme Court invites you, that's the equivalent of a royal command. An invitation from the Supreme Court just can't be rejected."
The Court typically issues a CVSG where the justices believe that the petition is important, and may be considering granting it, but would like a legal opinion before making that decision. Examples include where there is a federal interest involved in the case; where there is a new issue for which there is no established precedent; or where an issue has evolved, perhaps becoming more complex or affecting other issues.
Although there is usually no deadline by which the Solicitor General is required to respond to a CVSG, briefs in response to the CVSG are generally filed at three times of the year: late May, allowing the petition to be considered before the Court breaks for summer recess; August, allowing the petition to go on the "summer list", to be considered at the end of recess; and December, allowing the case to be argued in the remainder of the current Supreme Court term.
Several traditions have developed since the Office of Solicitor General was established in 1870. Most obviously to spectators at oral argument before the Court, the Solicitor General and his or her deputies traditionally appear in formal morning coats, although Elena Kagan, the only woman to hold the office, elected to forgo the practice.
Another tradition, possibly unique to the United States, is the practice of confession of error. If the government prevailed in the lower court but the Solicitor General disagrees with the result, he or she may confess error, after which the Supreme Court will vacate the lower court's ruling and send the case back for reconsideration.
|Picture||Solicitor General||Date of service||Appointing President|
|Benjamin Bristow||October 11, 1870 – November 15, 1872||Ulysses Grant|
|Samuel Phillips||December 11, 1872 – May 1, 1885|
|John Goode||May 1, 1885 – August 5, 1886||Grover Cleveland|
|George Jenks||July 30, 1886 – May 29, 1889|
|Orlow Chapman||May 29, 1889 – January 19, 1890||Benjamin Harrison|
|William Taft||February 4, 1890 – March 20, 1892|
|Charles Aldrich||March 21, 1892 – May 28, 1893|
|Lawrence Maxwell||April 6, 1893 – January 30, 1895||Grover Cleveland|
|Holmes Conrad||February 6, 1895 – July 1, 1897|
|John Richards||July 6, 1897 – March 16, 1903||William McKinley|
|Henry Hoyt||February 25, 1903 – March 31, 1909||Teddy Roosevelt|
|Lloyd Bowers||April 1, 1909 – September 9, 1910||William Taft|
|Frederick Lehmann||December 12, 1910 – July 15, 1912|
|William Bullitt||July 16, 1912 – March 11, 1913|
|John Davis||August 30, 1913 – November 26, 1918||Woodrow Wilson|
|Alexander King||November 27, 1918 – May 23, 1920|
|William Frierson||June 1, 1920 – June 30, 1921|
|James Beck||June 1, 1921 – May 11, 1925||Warren Harding|
|William Mitchell||June 4, 1925 – March 5, 1929||Calvin Coolidge|
|Charles Hughes||May 27, 1929 – April 16, 1930||Herbert Hoover|
|Thomas Thacher||March 22, 1930 – May 4, 1933|
|James Biggs||May 5, 1933 – March 24, 1935||Franklin Roosevelt|
|Stanley Reed||March 25, 1935 – January 30, 1938|
|Robert Jackson||March 5, 1938 – January 17, 1940|
|Francis Biddle||January 22, 1940 – September 4, 1941|
|Charles Fahy||November 15, 1941 – September 27, 1945|
|Howard McGrath||October 4, 1945 – October 7, 1946||Harry Truman|
|Philip Perlman||July 30, 1947 – August 15, 1952|
|Walter Cummings||December 2, 1952 – March 1, 1953|
|Simon Sobeloff||February 10, 1954 – July 19, 1956||Dwight Eisenhower|
|Lee Rankin||August 4, 1956 – January 23, 1961|
|Archibald Cox||January 24, 1961 – July 31, 1965||John F. Kennedy|
|Thurgood Marshall||August 11, 1965 – August 30, 1967||Lyndon Johnson|
|Erwin Griswold||October 12, 1967 – June 25, 1973|
|Robert Bork||June 27, 1973 – January 20, 1977||Richard Nixon|
|January 20, 1977 – March 4, 1977||Jimmy Carter|
|Wade McCree||March 4, 1977 – January 20, 1981|
|Rex Lee||August 6, 1981 – June 1, 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|Charles Fried||October 23, 1985 – January 20, 1989|
Acting: June 1, 1985 – October 23, 1985
|January 20, 1989 – May 27, 1989||George H. W. Bush|
|Ken Starr||May 27, 1989 – January 20, 1993|
|January 20, 1993 – June 7, 1993||Bill Clinton|
|Drew Days||June 7, 1993 – June 28, 1996|
|June 28, 1996 – November 7, 1997|
|Seth Waxman||November 7, 1997 – January 20, 2001|
|January 20, 2001 – June 13, 2001||George W. Bush|
|Ted Olson||June 13, 2001 – July 13, 2004|
|Paul Clement||June 13, 2005 – June 2, 2008|
Acting: July 13, 2004 – June 13, 2005
|Gregory Garre||October 2, 2008 – January 20, 2009|
Acting: June 2, 2008 – October 2, 2008
|January 20, 2009 – March 20, 2009||Barack Obama|
|Elena Kagan||March 20, 2009 – May 17, 2010|
|May 17, 2010 – June 9, 2011|
|Don Verrilli||June 9, 2011 – June 25, 2016|
|June 25, 2016 – January 20, 2017|
|January 20, 2017 – March 10, 2017||Donald Trump|
|March 10, 2017 – September 19, 2017|
|Noel Francisco||September 19, 2017 – present|
The 1924 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 4, 1924, as part of the 1924 United States presidential election. Wyoming voters chose three representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Wyoming was won by the 30th president of the United States Calvin Coolidge (R–Massachusetts), running with Director of the Bureau of the Budget Charles G. Dawes, with 52.39 percent of the popular vote, against the 20th Governor of Wisconsin Robert M. La Follette Sr. (P–Wisconsin), running with Senator Burton K. Wheeler, with 31.51 percent of the popular vote and the 14th Solicitor General of the United States John W. Davis (D–West Virginia), running with the 20th and 23rd governor of Nebraska Charles W. Bryan, with 16.11 percent of the popular vote.Wyoming was one of the thirteen Western and Midwestern states where Robert M. La Follette Sr. placed second, with 31.51% of the vote, but the only state that he succeeded in winning was his home state of Wisconsin.Alexander Campbell King
Alexander Campbell King (December 7, 1856 – July 25, 1926) was the 16th Solicitor General of the United States and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. King was a founding partner of the international law firm of King & Spalding.Charles Fahy
Charles Fahy (August 27, 1892 – September 17, 1979) was the 26th Solicitor General of the United States and later served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.Donald B. Verrilli Jr.
Donald Beaton Verrilli Jr. (born June 29, 1957) is an American lawyer who served as the Solicitor General of the United States from 2011 into 2016. He was sworn into the post on June 9, 2011. On June 6, 2011, the United States Senate confirmed Verrilli in a 72–16 vote. President Barack Obama had nominated Verrilli to the post on January 26, 2011. Verrilli previously served in the Obama administration as the Associate Deputy Attorney General, and as Deputy Counsel to the President. He is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Munger, Tolles & Olson and a Lecturer at Columbia University Law School, his alma mater.Henry M. Hoyt (Solicitor General)
Henry Martyn Hoyt Jr. (December 5, 1856 – November 20, 1910) served as Solicitor General of the United States from 1903 to 1909. His father, also named Henry Martyn Hoyt, served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1879 to 1883.Ian Heath Gershengorn
Ian Heath Gershengorn (born February 21, 1967) is an American lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General of the United States.Institute for Law, Science and Global Security
The Institute for Law, Science and Global Security  in the Department of Government at Georgetown University was established to promote teaching and research in the area of intersection between international law and international relations. The Institute sponsors undergraduate and graduate courses and runs a Master's Program in International Law and Global Security . The Institute seeks to inform the public policy debate about the nature, role and importance of international law as it connected to issues of science and global security. To this end, it sponsors a series of specific programs including the Program on Non-Proliferation Law and Policy , which is jointly run with the James Martin Center of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Most recently, the Institute has begun a special initiative in the area of cyber security . Among the participants in this initiative have been former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency General Michael Hayden, Siobhan Gorman, national security correspondent of The Wall Street Journal, and Suzanne Spaulding, former General Counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Since its creation, the Institute has also sponsored events with a variety of other speakers, including Paul D. Clement, former Solicitor General of the United States, Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, Neal Katyal, Deputy Solicitor General of the United States and legal counsel to former detainee Salim Hamdan, and David H. Remes, a former partner at Covington & Burling and currently representing detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.
The Institute was founded by Professors Christopher C. Joyner and Anthony Clark Arend, and was initially called The Institute for International Law and Politics. It is currently directed by Professor Joyner, and Professor Catherine Lotrionte serves as the Associate Director of the Institute. Amit Yoran, former Chief of the National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security and Phillip A. Karber serve on the Board of Advisers of the Institute. From 2007 to 2009, Brendan P. Geary--previously an Associate Attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and currently an Attorney in the Department of Justice's National Security Division--served as the Institute's William V. O'Brien Fellow.Jeff Wall (lawyer)
Jeffrey B. Wall is an American attorney who is Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States.
Prior to his government service, Wall served as co-head of Appellate Litigation Practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Wall clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during the 2004–2005 term and has argued sixteen cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. Wall was named a "rising star" by Law360 for his performances in awarding damages for patent cases. Wall argued on behalf of the United States in Hawaii v. Trump in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse in Seattle, Washington.Wall is a graduate of Georgetown University and University of Chicago Law School, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctor degree, respectively.
Jeff also taught Civics at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Preparatory in Orchard Lake Michigan, and coached JV Lacrosse.John Goode
John Goode Jr. (May 27, 1829 – July 14, 1909) was a Virginia Democratic politician who served in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War and then was a three-term postbellum United States Congressman. He was also the acting Solicitor General of the United States.John K. Richards
John Kelvey Richards (March 15, 1856 – March 1, 1909) was the 20th Attorney General of Ohio, the 10th Solicitor General of the United States and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and of the United States Circuit Courts for the Sixth Circuit.Neal Katyal
Neal Kumar Katyal (born March 12, 1970) is an American lawyer and partner at Hogan Lovells, as well as Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University Law Center. Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States from May 2010 until June 2011. Previously, Katyal served in as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Justice Department.
Katyal has argued more Supreme Court cases than any other minority group lawyer in American history. In 2017, American Lawyer Magazine named Katyal its coveted Grand Prize Litigator of the Year for both the 2016 and 2017 years.Noel Francisco
Noel John Francisco (born August 21, 1969) is an American attorney and the current Solicitor General of the United States in the Donald Trump administration. He is the first Asian American confirmed by the United States Senate to hold the position.Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle
Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), is a criminal case that came before the Supreme Court of the United States, which considered whether Puerto Rico and the federal government of the United States are separate sovereigns for purposes of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the US Constitution.In essence, the clause establishes that an individual cannot be tried for the same offense twice under the same sovereignty.
The petitioner claimed that Puerto Rico has a different sovereignty because of its political status while others claimed that it does not, including the respondent, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, and the Solicitor General of the United States.In a 6-2 decision, the Court affirmed that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars Puerto Rico and the United States from successively prosecuting the same person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws.
The decision was affirmed 6-2 in an opinion by Justice Kagan on June 9, 2016. Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Thomas filed an opinion, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Sotomayor joined.Samuel F. Phillips
Samuel F. Phillips (February 18, 1824 – November 18, 1903) was a civil rights pioneer, lawyer, politician who served as the second Solicitor General of the United States from 1872 to 1885). He then took part in the landmark civil rights case, Plessy v. Ferguson.Seth P. Waxman
Seth Paul Waxman (born November 28, 1951) is an American lawyer who served as the 41st Solicitor General of the United States. He was nominated by President Clinton on September 19, 1997, and confirmed by the United States Senate on November 9, 1997. He received his commission and took the oath of office on November 13, 1997, serving as Solicitor General until January 20, 2001.Simon Sobeloff
Simon Ernest Sobeloff (December 3, 1894 – July 11, 1973) was an American attorney and jurist, who served as Solicitor General of the United States, as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, and as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.Sri Srinivasan
Padmanabhan Srikanth "Sri" Srinivasan (; born February 23, 1967) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The United States Senate confirmed Srinivasan by a vote of 97–0 on May 23, 2013. Before his confirmation, Srinivasan served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States and has argued 25 cases before the United States Supreme Court. He has also lectured at Harvard Law School.
In 2016, Srinivasan was considered by President Obama as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court.Thomas D. Thacher
Thomas Day Thacher (September 10, 1881 – November 12, 1950) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the 21st Solicitor General of the United States and a Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.William Marshall Bullitt
William Marshall Bullitt (March 4, 1873 – October 3, 1957) was an influential lawyer and author who served as Solicitor General of the United States (1912-1913).
United States Solicitors General
Acting officeholders shown in italics
|Lists of justices|
|Lists of law clerks|